It must have been a strange feeling for Davy Russell when he was clapped back into the winners’ enclosure at Punchestown on Sunday.

Just over three weeks previous, on the same day as the World Cup final, he had announced his retirement.

He had his whole family there for the photos, he thanked everyone, he went on the radio and television shows to reflect on his amazing career and then he sat back and enjoyed a presumably much more relaxing Christmas.

A penny for his immediate thoughts then when he was sat at home watching the race last week at Naas and Jack Kennedy took an awful-looking fall on Top Bandit. All good ideas seem crazy at first, they say.

The truth of it is, once Gordon Elliott called him, there was only going to be one answer for Davy. He and Elliott have always been close friends, and the Meath trainer stuck by him in the latter stages of his career, when he was 11 months on the sidelines after a very bad back and neck injury.

He was also the one that connected him to Tiger Roll, the defining horse of his career.

So when Gordon came calling, Russell wanted to help.

Golden generation

As a racing fan, it’s great. The Cork rider is one of the most engaging characters in the sport and the last of a golden generation of Irish jumps jockeys after the retirements of A.P. McCoy, Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty, Paul Carberry and Robbie Power.

He is popular everywhere he goes. And if it is the case that Kennedy misses out on Cheltenham, the opportunity to see Russell negotiate the idiosyncrasies of Prestbury Park in the white hot heat of the festival one more time, that he’d thought he’d never have, will be captivating sport.

Yet the human side of you wonders, what if. What if he takes a fall on his already fragile body? Every jumps jockey that spends the time in the game he has and walks away from the sport on their own two feet is a winner. What if Davy is tempting fate?

Hopefully nothing of the sort comes to pass. But, judging by the reception he received as he hopped off Sa Fureur at Punchestown, Davy has the full support of the Irish racing community, who have an unexpected second chance to see him in action again.