Jessica Harrington lands first Irish Grand National win at 70

Trainer sees 9-2 favourite Our Duke rout Easter Monday opposition at Fairyhouse

Jockey Robbie Power and trainer Jessica Harrington celebrate  Our Duke’s victory in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Jockey Robbie Power and trainer Jessica Harrington celebrate Our Duke’s victory in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

A month after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Jessica Harrington landed her first BoyleSports Irish Grand National when the 9-2 favourite Our Duke routed his Easter Monday opposition at Fairyhouse.

“The Gold Cup and an Irish National are all firsts for me,” laughed the trainer. “It’s not bad for a 70-year-old.”

Just as he did on Sizing John at Cheltenham, jockey Robbie Power did the steering on board Our Duke who won the richest jumps race ever run in Ireland in spectacular style by 14 lengths.

Last year’s runner-up Bless The Wings again had to settle for second while Abolitionist, ridden by Rachel Blackmore, finished third.

Emerged on top

The colours of Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary were carried by 13 of the 28 National runners but it was Co Laois-based brothers Billy and Sloan Cooper who emerged on top in the €500,000 race.

“The owners also bred him, turned a lot of money down for him, and they’re fantastic,” said Harrington.

“It’s unbelievable and I can hardly believe it myself. He’s a novice, having just his fourth run over fences, but it went like copybook the whole way. Robert was convinced he would stay and my worry was the ground, but he absolutely loved it,” added the Moone, Co Kildare-based trainer.

Home gallops

The winning prizes were presented to connections by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

However, no one appeared happier with the success than the RTÉ presenter Tracy Piggott, daughter of the legendary jockey Lester Piggott, who has ridden Our Duke in his home gallops for the last three years.

“For all the winning days my father had, I think this is my best-ever day in racing,” she said.

Afterwards, Our Duke was cut to 10-1 by some bookmakers for next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.

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