Irish Grand National winner Our Duke is edging closer to a comeback run with connections keen to give the top-class chaser a racecourse school in the near future.
The eight-year-old son of Oscar won once in three starts over hurdles, but established himself as a chaser of the highest quality with victory in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse in April with a devastating 14-length front-running success under Robbie Power.
That win followed victories at Navan and Leopardstown, with the latter a Grade One victory over the equally highly talented Coney Island and a fine half-length second to Disko over an inadequate two-and-a-half miles at Leopardstown in February.
Despite featuring prominently in betting markets for the Gold Cup, the Irish-bred gelding was very disappointing on his return to action this year in the JNwine.come Champion Chase at Down Royal in which he was beaten by 51 lengths into seventh as he jumped poorly.
Connections subsequently found that the gelding had incurred a back problem but he is now back on course to feature in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown (February 4).
Harrington’s stable jockey Robbie Power remarked to At The Races:
The plan is Leopardstown at the moment. I schooled him after racing at Punchestown last week and he felt fantastic. We’ll get another racecourse school into him between now and then and hopefully, if all goes well, he’ll go to Leopardstown.
It could be a blessing. Going to Cheltenham and the spring, you don’t want to have had a hard winter and maybe missing a few tough battles will stand him in good stead later in the year.