Our Duke (right) stayed on well to land the Grade 1
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
By Keith Melrose 1:53PM 29 DEC 2016
Report: Leopardstown, Thursday
Neville Hotels Novice Chase (Grade 1), 3m 4yo+
AS IN Wednesday’s Lexus Chase, there was a thrilling finish to a three mile Grade 1 chase at Leopardstown on Thursday as Our Duke battled to success in a three-way scrap with Coney Island and Disko.
The trio had jumped the last fence virtually in a line, echoing Outlander, Don Poli and Valseur Lido less than 24 hours earlier, and it was Robbie Power on Our Duke whose mount found the most to prevail by half a length from 5-2 favourite Coney Island.
Disko had made a bold move up the outside near the end of the back straight and got first run on the other two, aided by Coney Island getting in tight to a couple of fence. However, Our Duke snuck up the inside of both and got on top within the last 100 yards.
Our Duke is a second winner of the race registered as the Fort Leney Novice Chase for trainer Jessica Harrington. The first, Bostons Angel, went on to win the RSA Chase at the festival and the bookies give Our Duke a fighting chance of completing the same double.
The winner was introduced at 12-1 for the RSA by BoyleSports. He is a general 10-1 chance to land a double last achieved by Don Poli two years ago.
Harrington said: “He made about five mistakes during the race and at the second last I thought that he had to be out of it. He pinged the last and he quickened up well for a horse of his size.
“I know he won his bumper and was good over hurdles, but everything he did up until now has been a bonus as he was always going to come into his own as a chaser.
“Today was the plan and he is probably a horse that doesn’t need a lot of racing so we will need to have a chat amongst ourselves before making a plan.
“The owners have one mare breeding and she had three runners running at Leopardstown this week. Not many people who have three horses in training could have three horses to make it to Leopardstown. It proves that it still can be done and don’t everyone give up.”