OUR DUKE is on course to make his seasonal reappearance in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal on November 4th.
The seven-year-old won three of his four starts as a novice over fences last term, rounding off the campaign with a stunning performance in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse in April.
He is a best-priced 10-1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and trainer Jessica Harrington could not be happier with her charge ahead of his return to action.
Speaking at the launch of the Down Royal Festival of Racing, which takes place on the first Friday and Saturday of next month, Harrington said: "Down Royal is the plan at the moment and he's on track for that.
"I'd hope we'll get him there spot on. He's only got about three or four races that he's going to run in during the winter so we can afford to have him spot on for the first one.
"I hope he'll be ready in time and the only thing that would probably stop us would be if the ground came up very quick up there.
"He's only seven, he's had very, very little racing and he's definitely stronger and more mature. He's very exciting."
Reflecting upon his Irish National success, the trainer added: "It was a very, very good performance that day.
"I was frightened because it was his first handicap and it was a big field. The plan was to jump him off on the outside, have him up there all the way and that's what he did."