Jessica Harrington’s 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sizing John is set to make his return from a two-year absence at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve after pleasing connections in a post-racing workout at the County Kildare circuit on Sunday.
Last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Sizing John, may not be here to defend his crown but trainer Jessica Harrington has an able deputy in the shape of Our Duke, who can land racing’s blue riband on the final day of another very successful Festival for Irish-trained runners.
Kate Harrington, 27, is assistant trainer to her mother Jessica, who will have a strong team, headed by Gold Cup hero Sizing John, operating over the festive period. Kate is also a prolific winner as a jockey herself
Irish Grand National-winning jockey Robbie Power says that horse racing’s updated Non-Trier rule means that jockeys will be riding for punters and stewards rather than horses and their connections, and admits that riders will have to be harder than they would like and risk the futures of young horses, to avoid falling foul of the regulation.
With maiden victories in the Irish Gold Cup and Cheltenham Gold Cup already safely tucked away, a remarkable season of firsts continued for Commonstown trainer Jessica Harrington and jockey Robbie Power, as Our Duke belied his inexperience to win the Boylesports Irish Grand National, and, make no mistake, did so in the style of a future Cheltenham Gold Cup horse.