Our Duke Is Back After Slipped Disc Woes

Punchestown was thoroughly enjoyable on Saturday and I was delighted with the win on Impact Factor.

Impact Factor
He did what we expected in the maiden hurdle; got quite revved up on me down at the start which is quite unusual for him.

He’s definitely graded class but whether he’ll reach Grade One level or not, only time will tell but we can dream!

Jessie’s (Harrington) team are in superb form. Christmas was frustrating at the time but the horses are running to their best.

I rode Koshari to finish second to Invitation Only in the Grade 3 Novice Chase. His jumping lacked fluency at times and once that is improved upon, I think there’s a big race in him.

Invitation Only jumped like a stag and I thought on the run to the final fence that I might collar him but he picked up again and won going away. It rode a good race, we went an honest gallop for the entire race. I think the first two home are horses to follow.

I was really impressed with Getabird in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle. He seems to have all the right attributes. I’m not Mengli Khan’s biggest fan but the manner in which he beat him was very taking.

His jumping is very slick and when Patrick Mullins gave him a squeeze off the home bend, he quickened up in good style. I’d imagine connections will stick to two miles and target the Supreme Novice Hurdle. He’s not short of gears and the staying novice hurdle division is that bit stronger with Samcro in it.

Irish Gold Cup
Our Duke is one of 22 entries in the Irish Gold Cup.

I’m delighted to say he’s in great form and we couldn’t be happier.

He was treated for kissing spines which is the equivalent of a human having a slipped disc. I knew at Down Royal something was amiss because he never travelled but he’s jumping and moving super at the moment.

The Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown is a brilliant initiative and it falls perfectly between Christmas and Cheltenham. It’s a great idea to bring all those races together over one weekend and also, it removes that complete focus on Cheltenham post-Christmas. Trainers will now have the DRF on their radar from early in the season. These races are not trials for Cheltenham; owners and trainers actually want to win them.

Finally, a quick mention of James Bowen who is been spoken about in glowing terms. He’s an exceptional young man; the UK’s equivalent to Jack Kennedy! I’ve ridden against him in the UK and he’s a got a great head on his shoulders.

I know he spent last summer with Gordon Elliott prior to turning professional. Gordon was keen to keep him as his conditional but he had already decided to head to Nicky Henderson’s yard. Provided he stays injury free, he should have a big future.