Our Duke back on Gold Cup trail with Red Mills Chase victory

Sat 17 Feb 2018

Our Duke got his season back on track with a battling defeat of Presenting Percy in a thrilling Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park.

Having flopped on his Down Royal comeback, after he which he underwent an operation for a kissing spine, last season's Irish National hero performed with more credit in the Irish Gold Cup but was back in action less than two weeks later.

The Jessica Harrington-trained eight-year-old was always up with the pace but made a couple of errors, and leading novice Presenting Percy served it up to him from three out.

They jumped the last couple of obstacles as one and settled down for a real tussle to the line, but Our Duke (5-2) and Robbie Power pulled out that little bit more to prevail by a length from the even-money favourite.

Betfair cut Our Duke to 12-1 from 16-1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and Harrington confirmed all roads now lead to the Festival.

The Easter Festival - BoyleSports Irish Grand National Day - Fairyhouse Races Our Duke got back to winning ways at Gowran Park (PA)

She said: "I'm absolutely delighted. He was good and Robert said he really only started jumping over the last three. He loses his concentration, but he was much sharper today. He only starts concentrating when he goes quick, and you can't go too quick on that ground.

"He has a very high cruising speed and he'll concentrate all right at Cheltenham. When he goes that gear quicker, he's on the bridle and he can do anything. He wouldn't have liked that ground as it's horrible ground, and it's a good performance giving Presenting Percy 7lb.

"All being well, he'll go to the Gold Cup now and I won't have to do much with him, which is great. He had to come back and do that as you couldn't go without that race and he'll be sharper again."

Power said: "People were knocking his run in Leopardstown (Irish Gold Cup), but I was delighted with him and if he'd not made the mistake at the second-last there, he'd have gone close.

"He made a couple of niggly mistakes today because we were going so slow on the ground, but when we were stepping on the gas over the last three fences, he was brilliant.

"He had to get a run (before the Gold Cup) and it was either here or the Bobbyjo next week. This was the obvious target and he's not a slow horse, he's got gears and he quickened up well. Fair play to the second horse, he's a fair novice.

"I knew I needed to jump the last well, and he did. He had to come here and win, it's three weeks to the Gold Cup and that's perfect."

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