Tributes paid to Irish Grand National winner after sudden death

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  • Irish Grand National winner Our Duke has died at the age of eight from a heart attack.

    Trainer Jessica Harrington revealed the news yesterday (19 April).

    “We are sad to announce Our Duke died this morning following his usual morning exercise,” said Jessica.

    “He suffered a massive heart attack. He is a great loss to the Cooper family and our team.”

    The gelding, owned by the Cooper Family Syndicate, won six out of his 13 starts under Rules.

    Jessica’s daughter, amateur jockey and assistant trainer Kate Harrington, rode Our Duke in his first two bumpers under Rules, finishing first and second.

    The ride then went to Robbie Power, who described him as “one of the best” he has ever ridden.

    The pair were sent off as 9/2 favourites in the 2017 BoyleSports Irish Grand National, despite the fact this was only the horse’s fourth run over fences, and finished 14 lengths clear of second-placed Bless The Wings.

    Our Duke’s last race was in the Timico Gold Cup at Cheltenham on 16 March, where he was pulled up.

    In his BoyleSports blog Robbie said he rode Our Duke on a “routine canter” on the morning of the horse’s death.

    “It was a massive shock,” added Robbie.

    “It’s truly devastating for everybody in Jessica Harrington’s yard, he was a stable star there.

    “It’s especially devastating for the Cooper family and Tracy Piggott who rode him out every day.

    “The performance he put in to win the 2017 Irish Grand National will live long in my memory. It’s one of the best feels I’ve got off any horse I’ve ever ridden.

    We definitely didn’t see his true run in Cheltenham with the softer ground there so it’s a case of what could have been for Our Duke.

    “He has certainly left a lasting impression and memories we’ll always have to look back on.”

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    In this week’s magazine, don’t miss our special report from the British Dressage Winter Championships, plus full analysis from the Grand National — including expert comment, pictures and more. Read our report from the dressage and showjumping World Cup finals, and in this week’s ‘vet clinic’ we discuss the facts about fitness.

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