NOTEBOOK: Grand National winner Sam Waley-Cohen has no regrets

CHELTENHAM NOTEBOOK: Grand National winner Sam Waley-Cohen has no regrets about retirement, Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping for more footballing success… and Davy Russell HITS BACK at Michael O’Leary

  • Grand National-winning jockey has claimed he has no regrets about retirement
  • Protektorat – part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson – is hoping to win the Gold Cup
  • Click here for the latest Cheltenham Festival news, schedule and race results

Sam Waley-Cohen admits he occasionally yearns to be back in the thick of the big-race action but has no regrets that he will be watching his Grand National winner Noble Yeats running in the Gold Cup on Friday afternoon.

Waley-Cohen became the first amateur jockey to win the Grand National in 32 years last April on the 50-1 shot, before promptly announcing his retirement a few minutes later. His old mount has moved up another level since but Waley-Cohen is not surprised by Noble Yeats’ progress.

He said: ‘He was a novice last year which puts into perspective what he did. He gets on very well with (new jockey) Sean Bowen.

‘I will definitely be there (for the Gold Cup). It’s great seeing him do his stuff — it is still very exciting.’

Grand National-winning jockey Sam Waley-Cohen insists he has no regrets about retirement

Sir Alex Ferguson hoping for more football success 

Football was the Festival winner on Wednesday when Brighton owner Tony Bloom won the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Willie Mullins-trained Energumene.

There is an outside interest in Friday’s Gold Cup hope Protektorat, too — the Dan Skelton-trained gelding is part-owned by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. 

Gold Cup odds 

Galopin Des Champs – 11/8

A Plus Tard – 4/1

Bravemansgame – 17/2

Noble Yeats – 10/1

 Stattler – 10/1

Conflated – 14/1

Minella Indo – 14/1

Ahoy Senor – 18/1

Protektorat – 18/1

Sounds Russian – 28/1

Hewick – 40/1

Royale Pagaille – 80/1

Eldorado Allen – 100/1 

Odds provided by Paddy Power 

A busy day for Paul Nicholls 

Trainer Paul Nicholls has his most important runner of the week with Bravemansgame in the Gold Cup. 

But his mind will also be on the following St James’s Place Hunters’ Chase, when his daughter Olive makes her Festival riding debut on Shantou Flyer. 

Davy Russell hits back at Michael O’Leary 

The conversation in the Gold Cup parade ring between Michael O’Leary and jockey Davy Russell, who rides his runner Conflated, might be interesting. 

Earlier this week, in an ITV interview, O’Leary made comments which were interpreted as critical of 43-year-old Russell’s decision to come out of his 18-day retirement to help out trainer Gordon Elliott while his No 1 jockey Jack Kennedy recovers from a broken leg. 

Russell responded on Thursday, telling ITV: ‘I have as much respect for Michael O’Leary’s opinion as he has for my opinion.’ Ouch! 

Jockey Davy Russell was quick to hit back at comments made by Michael O’Leary this week

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