It is not inconceivable that we witnessed two future Cheltenham Gold Cup contenders at Fairyhouse this afternoon. Leading novice Our Duke destroyed his rivals in the Irish Grand National off a mark of 153. The Oscar gelding scored by fourteen lengths under Robbie Power, who has enjoyed a fantastic few months. Always to the fore, he galloped his opponents into submission and looked every inch a Gold Cup candidate. Already a Grade 1 winner over fences, he is likely to develop into a formidable to his stablemate and reigning holder Sizing John next winter.
The card was rounded off by another impressive display by the unbeaten Samcro. Featured in the Top 40 Prospects of One Jump Ahead, Gordon Elliott's former pointer was hacking throughout and only had to be shaken up by Cheltenham Festival winning rider Lisa O'Neill before storming to a seventeen lengths success. The Germany gelding has won all three of his starts in bumpers this campaign and he ought to make a top-class novice hurdler next season before going chasing. The five year old has huge potential and, granted luck, is another possible Gold Cup contender in years to come.
Switching codes, despite only finishing seventh in the six furlongs handicap at Redcar, I thought Laughton made a very encouraging return to action. Kevin Ryan's charge, who was gelded during the winter, was slowly away but travelled strongly before his effort flattened out late on. I think he will be suited by a drop back to the minimum trip and, with that run under his belt, he will be of definite interest next time. He is handicapped to win more races this season.
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