Duke special for Harrington and Power
Jessica Harrington appears to have a future Gold Cup winner on her hands after Our Duke's sensational BoyleSports Irish Grand National performance, a 14-length annihilation of the field, at Fairyhouse yesterday.
Harrington's first runner in the big one at Cheltenham - Sizing John - emerged victorious last month but rider Robbie Power could have the mother of all dilemmas come next March, as Our Duke emerged as a major contender for that race yesterday.
Sent off 9/2 favourite, the novice, having just his fourth chase appearance, ran his rivals into the ground. The form of the race seems sound, since the runner-up Bless The Wings filled that position in last year's National.
Power reckoned he "could have won by 20 lengths" and Harrington admitted that she was shaking inside. It was the stable's first win in the race, the rider's too.
"It's hard to comprehend winning the Gold Cup and the Irish National. It's taken me a long time to get the hang of training these staying chasers," joked Harrington (70). "Robbie rode his first ever winner for me. We get on very well. I give out to him if he does something wrong but he doesn't do much wrong these days."
Power said: "This means as much to me as winning the Gold Cup, coming back into the winners' enclosure at my local track surrounded by friends I've known since as long as I can remember."
The run of Bless The Wings ensured €100,000 for Gordon Elliott in his bid to win the trainers' title, his rival Willie Mullins having had two winners earlier on. Elliott now seems in control.
Power's fellow Meath man Barry Geraghty had a day to forget, with the rider suffering a suspected broken arm after his mount, Minella Foru, fell in the big race.