Phew! Job done as Death Duty is straight off the mark despite last-gasp scare
Death Duty showed just why trainer Gordon Elliott had been dying to run him over fences when making a successful chasing debut at Tipperary on Tuesday, but punters who took the 1-5 about the six-year-old may have had a fright jumping the last as Cap D'Aubois threatened to spoil the party, only for the winner to pick up and record an ultimately cosy victory.
For much of the €12,000 2m7f beginners' chase, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Death Duty looked in full control, opening up a useful lead in front and tanking to what appeared a straightforward success.
Cap D'Aubois, ridden by Ruby Walsh, attempted to make a race of things with five fences to go, but Davy Russell was motionless on the four-time hurdle winner, who had started favourite for the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival in March only to unseat rider Bryan Cooper at the last when beaten.
Russell even stole a peek between his legs one out to see how Walsh was going on the Willie Mullins-trained runner-up, who was galvanised by his partner jumping the last as Death Duty was awkward.
The 7-2 second may have even nosed in front on the run to the line, but Death Duty responded to remain unchanged at 16-1 with Paddy Power for the RSA Novices' Chase at Cheltenham.
"It's job done," said Elliott, who has never hidden his faith in the son of Shantou. "That's the thing when you get messy races like that. Davy said he never came out of second gear but the horse wanted to be brave the whole way – he was trying to get him to pop it. He said if he gave him a kick at the last he could have turned upside down, so he had to sit it and got in too close.
"He's a good horse – a very good horse. The one thing you need to be a champion is heart, and he's got heart. He could have got beaten when he made the mistake at the last but he came back. I'd imagine we'll try to find one more race and then head to the Drinmore, all being well.
"He wants two and a half miles, he's won over two and a half all last year. To be honest, if he went and winged the last he'd have won by six or seven lengths on the bridle and everything would have been fine [regarding questions over his optimum trip], but I don't think he could have done any more than what he did. He's having a real good blow after the race too."
This race report is being updated and more news will follow shortly. Please refresh for the fullest version