runners during the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar, California
THE huge crowd that flocked to Down Royal for Northern Ireland’s top raceday had a thrilling spectacle served up in the JNwine.com Chase, as some of Ireland’s best put down their markers in the first Grade One chase of the season, but possibly not the one expected.
The exciting seven-year-old Our Duke — touted as a Gold
Cup prospect after running away with the Irish Grand National in April — flopped, leaving 16-1 shot Outlander and 7-2 secondfavourite Road To Respect, both in the Gigginstown maroon colours, to fight it out from the back of the second-last.
Victory, by half a length, went to the Gordon Elliott-trained Outlander, who has a special place in the affections of his young rider Jack Kennedy: “He gave me my first Grade One win in the Lexus last season,” he said. “And now this — he’s one of my favourites and one I’ll never forget.”
The Stowaway nine-year-old, who underwent surgery to sort out a kissing spine during the summer, had produced a dull display behind Road To Respect on his comeback last month, but a day’s hunting and first-time cheekpieces did the trick, as his confidence seemed restored.
Road To Respect’s stablemate, Disko, presented his own credentials for the best staying chases in the Grade Two, two-anda-half miler. The exuberant grey French-bred made every yard and held Ballyoisin by a cosy halflength under a hands-and-heels ride from Sean Flanagan.
Outlander overhauls Road To Respect in the JNwine.com Chase