Our Duke – the racehorse owned by the Cooper family syndicate from Coolrain which won this year’s Irish Grand National winner which is – will make its first appearance of the National Hunt season in Down Royal early next month.
Trainer Jessica Harrington was speaking at the official launch of the Down Royal two-day festival on November 3/4 and said the seven-year-old is on course to appear in the Grade 1 race.
Our Duke hasn’t run since that stunning Grand National success last Easter but Harrington is very happy with his progress and is aiming for the jnWine.com Champion Chase in Down Royal on Saturday, November 4, the first Grade 1 race of the National Hunt season.
The prize fund is €140,000 (just over €80,000 for the winner) and it’s a race that has been previously won by two-time Gold Cup winner Kauto Star. Our Duke is currently 10/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and is fourth in the betting.
“Down Royal is the plan at the moment and he’s on track for that,” said Harrington yesterday.
“I’d hope we’ll get him there spot on. He’s only got about three or four races that he’s going to run in during the winter so we can afford to have him spot on for the first one.
“I hope he’ll be ready in time and the only thing that would probably stop us is if the ground came up very quick up there.
“He’s only seven, he’s had very, very little racing and he’s definitely stronger and more mature. He’s very exciting.”