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Monday, 19 November, 2018

Power: Our Duke has a cracking chance and I wouldn't swap him

Our Duke (right): is a Grade 1 horse in a handicap according to jockey Robbie Power
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Robbie Power conquered the Cheltenham Gold Cup, rode two other winners at the Gloucester track and four at Aintree but now seeks local success and the hottest jockey around believes Our Duke is his best ever chance of winning Ireland's richest jumps race, the BoyleSports Irish Grand National. 

Power, who lives just a couple of miles away from the track at Fairyhouse, went closest to winning the race in 2010 when Oscar Time was second to Bluesea Cracker but he believes Our Duke is the best ride he has ever had in the race and described him as a "genuine Grade 1 horse."

Our Duke is 11-2 with the sponsors – no bigger than 6-1 with any firm – so looks sure to be sent off favourite for the Easter Monday marathon and Power thinks he deserves his spot at the top of the market. 

"He looks to have a cracking chance and I certainly wouldn't swap him for anything else," Power said. "He is already a Grade 1 winner and I think he is a genuine Grade 1 horse. You would like to think that he wouldn't have been too far away in the RSA if he went down that route.

"The one worry I would have would be the ground, but once it is safe and on the slow side of ground that would be fine for him. They will water so it should be fine."

Our Duke won the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting, despite making a whole host of errors, but Power says his jumping has come on in leaps and bounds since then.

"I know he didn't jump particularly well when he won over Christmas but he was better next time at Leopardstown when second to Disko. He has done lots and lots of schooling since and he has been very good. He has improved a lot in that department. He was even away for a racecourse school and I was very happy with him," Power said. 

He added: "I would be fairly confident of a big run from him and he seems in great form. The last few weeks have been unbelievable but this is one race I would love to win. It is my local track and I've always wanted to win the Irish National. I won't get any better chances than this one."

Our Duke was among 74 horses that remained in the Irish Grand National at the five-day forfeit stage on Wednesday, but he will need to fight off an army of Gordon Elliott-trained horses to land the spoils as the current pacesetter in the Irish trainers' title race still has 21 left in the race. 

BoyleSports make Elliott a 2-1 shot to trained the winner of the Irish Grand National for the first time, while Willie Mullins is 4-1 to do likewise.

Paddy Power winner Noble Endeavor is Elliott's shortest-price runner in the race at present, 10-1 with the sponsors, while Mullins' big hope The Crafty Butcher will need plenty to come out as he is only number 45 on the list. 

Liam Glynn, BoyleSports spokesperson, said: "Our Duke, our current 11-2 favourite, is by far the worst result in the ante-post book at present and, with the form that novices have in the race and the winning streak that trainer Jessica Harrington and jockey Robbie Power are on at present, we are very keen to keep him on side."

Irish Grand National card

The last few weeks have been unbelievable but this is one race I'd love to win
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