Our Duke, a brilliant winner of the Irish Grand National and a Grade 1-winning novice last season, will be entered in Saturday’s Grade 2 Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park before a planned tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Owned and bred by the Cooper family, Our Duke ran creditably when fourth behind Edwulf in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown just over a week ago, his first race since disappointing on his seasonal return at Down Royal in November.
The eight-year-old was treated for kissing spines after that Down Royal disappointment, and after his encouraging display at Leopardstown Jessica Harrington is eager to get one more run into him before making the trip to Cheltenham for the Timico-backed centrepiece for which he is a general 16-1 shot.
“The plan is to run at Gowran Park on Saturday, all being well,” revealed Harrington.
“The two and a half miles isn't going to be ideal, but we need to get another run into him before the Gold Cup and the Red Mills is the only suitable option.”
One potential rival at Gowran is leading RSA hope Presenting Percy, whose owner Philip Reynolds said last week would run in either the Red Mills Chase or Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse later this month.
Robbie Power, who may have to pick between Our Duke and last season’s Gold Cup winner Sizing John at Cheltenham, was delighted with Our Duke's performance last time.
He said in his BoyleSports blog: “Realistically it was Our Duke’s first run of the year in the Irish Gold Cup after the non-event we had at Down Royal.
“He was a little big ring-rusty at the start, but the further we went the better he got.
"I still thought we had a big chance coming to the second last but unfortunately he made a novicey mistake.
“Hopefully he’ll improve an awful lot from the run, and the pleasing thing for me was when he picked up in the straight he stayed galloping away. That means there’s plenty to look forward to with him this season.”
Harrington reported Supasundae, an impressive winner of the Irish Champion Hurdle last time, on course for the Sun Bet Stayers’ Hurdle. He will go straight to the festival along with Sizing John.