O'BRIEN KEEN ON EDWULF FOR GOLD CUP
Trainer Joseph O'Brien is hopeful of a good performance from Edwulf in today's Blue Riband event, the G1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, on the final day of the Festival.
Winner of the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February, Edwulf, owned by J P McManus, successful with Synchorinised in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2012, returns to Prestbury Park 12 months after collapsing in the National Hunt Chase over four miles.
Immediately attended to by veterinary officers, the nine-year-old son of Kayf Tara made a full recovery and is now a general 33/1 shot to win today's extended three-mile and two furlong event under amateur rider Derek O'Connor.
Recalling the incident, O'Brien said: "Edwulf jumped the second last and collapsed at the back of the last. He came back 100% very quickly after the race and the following evening he was pretty much perfect.
"All the vets did an outstanding job with him and he then had a nice break over the summer at Martinstown.
"Edwulf has come back this season better than ever. We weren't expecting him to win the Irish Gold Cup, but we expected him to run very well. He had been working nicely and we knew he was a good horse.
"He was running a huge race here last year when he fell. We are hoping he will run a big race today.
"He's very well in himself since arriving. He had a nice walk this morning, he's fresh and well - we're looking forward to the race.
"To be here taking part with a horse with a legitimate each-way chance is wonderful."
OUR DUKE TO FOLLOW STABLE COMPANION
Robbie Power is relishing the prospect of partnering the Jessica Harrington trained Our Duke in today's G1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Successful in National Hunt racing's Blue Riband event last year aboard stable companion Sizing John, Power is seeking to land his fifth success at The Festival overall and would become the first jockey since Jim Culloty in 2003, to win back-to-back renewals of the extended three-mile and two furlong Championship Chase.
Our Duke has progressed well over fences and followed a G1 victory in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown in December 2016, with a decisive 14-length victory in the Irish Grand National over three miles and five furlongs in April 2017.
The eight-year-old son of Oscar was only seventh on his first start of this season in the G1 JNwine.com Champion Chase, but he bounced back to form with a fourth-placed finish in the Irish Gold Cup in February following back surgery.
A gutsy length winner over subsequent G1 RSA Chase winner Presenting Percy at Gowran Park on February 17, Power believes conditions will suit the gelding.
Power said: "I'm very lucky that I've been able to switch onto Our Duke following Sizing John's injury.
"He feels good in the mornings and we're really happy with him.
"He won't mind the ground conditions and he has a good chance. The form got a good boost following Presenting Percy's victory in the RSA Chase on Wednesday which always helps.
"That race at Gowran Park last time sharpened him up and has left him spot on for this event.
"He is walking round like he owns the place and hopefully he will do this afternoon."