Sport Horse Racing

Monday 18 December 2017

Duke Lords it at Aintree

Duke of Lucca
Duke of Lucca

Keith Hamer

Duke Of Lucca put in a game performance to get the better of a three-way battle and repeat his victory of 12 months ago in the Betfred Handicap Chase at Aintree.

Although entering the Listed contest with some less than inspiring form figures to his name, the 9-2 chance had enough in reserve to win the race once again from a 3lb-higher mark.

Mart Lane, Your Busy and Vino Griego all vied for the lead early on before the latter established himself as the clear leader as the field headed out of the back straight for the first time.

The lead was still in the hands of the Gary Moore-trained runner, who was being ridden by Tom Cannon deputising for the injured Joshua Moore, until the third-last where he was joined by Your Busy and Duke Of Lucca.

Travelling much the stronger, last year's winner moved into the lead under Richard Johnson over the second-last before opening up a slender gap over his nearest pursuers.

At the last it looked as though Duke Of Lucca was set to be swallowed up as in a pincer-like movement both Wonderful Charm and Your Busy attacked the eventual winner.

Despite both horses charging at all angles they failed to find a way past, with Duke Of Lucca gamely hanging on to score by a neck from Your Busy and Wonderful Charm finishing a further neck away in third.

Hobbs said: "Apart from a mistake down the back straight and at the fourth-last he jumped really well.

"But for those two mistakes he would have won easily. He's quite talented when he puts his best foot forward.

"I think if we had the option of getting in the National or winning this, this is better."

We're nearly there. Robson is first with his picks: "Night In Milan should give us a run for our money, along with Saint Are, Spring Heeled and Al Co. All those are big prices, but Rocky Creek looks the one to beat."

Only one horse on Keith's mind: "Rocky Creek was impressive at Kempton and is a better horse than when fifth last year."

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