Plenty of Irish joy at Ayr
James Lambe - Ayr double
(Healy Racing Photos)
The Kinross based handler sent a team of five horses to the meeting with two lining up against each other in the novices' chase.
The afternoon got off to a perfect start when Green Flag (5/6f) took his Rules record to four wins from six starts when defying a penalty in the opening National Hunt novices' hurdle.
His success was followed by another for Russell and jockey Peter Buchanan as Imjoeking (7/2) atoned for returning a beaten favourite on his hurdling bow with a smooth success in the two mile maiden hurdle from Halo Moon.
There was no surprise about Tap Night (4/9f) completing the hat-trick but his victory is sure to have been especially welcomed as the six year old was having his first start in the colours of J P McManus.
It momentarily looked as though the chasing debutant was in trouble but that impression was only fleeting and a good leap two out saw him join the leaders on the bridle and A P McCoy only needed to push him out to score.
Russell told Racing UK: "I was really pleased. He was a bit novicey at a couple but he jumped well in the main and he was entitled to win it off his mark.
"I like the way he quickened up, AP (McCoy) was quite happy so it's all good news.
"I'm not too sure what we'll do about the distance, whether we go up to two and a half or stick at two miles.
"He's certainly got plenty of pace and I was quite pleased with how he handled the really soft ground.
"He's a cracking little horse to have, he's game and AP was pleased with his attitude - he said he's very genuine.
"It's lovely that JP McManus has horses up here and that he'll be watching races at Ayr and I just hope he continues to be successful."
McCoy went on to complete a treble of his own aboard two runners trained by Northern Irish based handler James Lambe.
The first to score was 16/1 chance Forestside who edged out the favourite Talkin Sence by a short-head in the three mile handicap hurdle and the champion jockey also had to work hard in the third leg.
It appeared as though Mighty Whitey was doing enough in front but McCoy was at his most determined aboard Seader (4/1) who eventually prevailed by half a length.
Countrywide Flame remains on course for the Champion Hurdle despite meeting with defeat in Kempton's Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day.