Robbie Power seeking victorious return for Our Duke at Down Royal

Wed 1 Nov 2017

By staff

Robbie Power is confident Our Duke is "ready to rock and roll" ahead of his eagerly-anticipated seasonal debut in the Champion Chase at Down Royal on Saturday.

Jessica Harrington's charge won three of his four starts as a novice over fences last season, rounding off his campaign with a stunning display in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

The seven-year-old is a general 8-1 shot for the Cheltenham Gold Cup next March and his credentials will be given an early test in County Antrim this weekend. He is 4-6 with Betfair and Paddy Power.

Power said: "It's nearly six months since the Irish Grand National. That day going to Fairyhouse, I thought he'd win, but to win the way he did was seriously impressive.

"He's had a good break over the summer, he's summered really well, and he looks a million dollars.

"He's ready to go and he's as fit as we could have him without having a run. He's been away for a racecourse gallop and hopefully he'll run well on Saturday."

The jockey is under no illusions Our Duke will need to raise his game to challenge the best the staying chase division has to offer this season, which includes his Gold Cup-winning stablemate Sizing John.

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Our Duke looks a million dollars for his return

The jockey added: "On ratings he was the best novice chaser in Ireland and England last year, but he's stepping out of novice company for the first time now on Saturday.

"I couldn't be happier with him. Since he's come back in he hasn't missed a day and everything has gone 100 percent.

"He schooled really well this morning, he looks fantastic, and he's ready to rock and roll. We can't get him any fitter at home and he needs to go and run now.

"He's got to step up to that level and prove that, hopefully, he can be a genuine Gold Cup contender."

Gigginstown House Stud are set to fire a four-pronged assault on Saturday's Grade One contest, despite ruling out last year's winner Valseur Lido.

The leading owners have claimed the prize five times in the last six years, with Quito De La Roque (2011), Roi Du Mee (2013), Road To Riches (2014) and Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack (2015) joining Valseur Lido on the roll of honour.

This year's team is set to be headed by Noel Meade's Road To Respect, who having won at Cheltenham and Fairyhouse in the spring, made a successful return to action in the Irish Daily Star Chase at Punchestown little over a fortnight ago.

Gigginstown's racing manager, Eddie O'Leary said: "We're looking like having four runners in the big race - Sub Lieutenant, Outlander, Mouse's (Morris) horse (Alpha Des Obeaux) and probably Road To Respect.

"The other horse (Disko) will probably go for the other race ( Chase) along with one or two others."

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