JESSICA HARRINGTON TASTED her first Irish Grand National success as 9-2 favourite Our Duke romped to victory at Fairyhouse.
With Robbie Power on board, it was never really in doubt. Despite it being the 7-year-old gelding’s first handicap and only fourth time over fences, he finished well ahead of Bless The Wings, who was runner-up for the second successive year, and Abolitionist in third.
Just last month, Harrington’s Sizing John took victory at the Cheltenham Gold Cup and, unsurprisingly, Our Duke’s odds for next year’s event were dramatically cut following the win here: from 25/1 to 14/1.
Power, a native of Summerhill in Meath, was on board Sizing John in March but took particular delight with a win so close to home.
“This means so much to me,” he said.
“It’s my local racecourse and I was second in it a few years ago. He is a hell of a good horse. He is very, very good. Once he got a good view of his fences and got plenty of light, we were going to be happy. Hopefully I’ll have a tough decision to make next March.”
For Harrington, who is 70, it’s another first after the Gold Cup triumph.
“It’s hard to comprehend winning the Gold Cup and the Irish National”, she said.
It’s taken me a long time to get the hang of training these staying chasers!”
She admitted to wanting to keep Our Duke back from this year’s Gold Cup so that he can properly challenge in 2018 and fancies him to make another splash next year.
“We all have to get there but he looks a Gold Cup horse. That’s why he didn’t go to Cheltenham this year, as we wanted to wait and go to the Gold Cup next year. We’ll keep him and Sizing John apart and see what happens.”