Racing: Le Duc makes fine start with debut chase win

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The Independent Online

Le Duc, one of last season's top juvenile hurdlers, gave an almost flawless display of jumping when making a successful debut over fences here yesterday. The Paul Nicholls-trained four-year-old, ridden by Joe Tizzard, hardly put a foot wrong, which bodes well for his long-term objective, the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.

Owner Andy Stewart said: "He jumped well, which was the main thing, but it will be a different matter when he is up against the likes of Puntal and Thisthatandtother.

"He is a horse who would appreciate a very fast pace where he can travel very smoothly, and this race was never going to suit him ideally. But I'm very pleased and we will have to look at stepping him up in grade now." On his final start last season Le Duc beat Triumph Hurdle winner Spectroscope by a head at Aintree, but Nicholls has always said he was keen to see the French-bred gelding go chasing.

* It Takes Time and Poliantas are 6-1 joint-favourites with the sponsors for the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on 15 November. Martin Pipe has seven of the 51 entries this season, including It Takes Time and Cyfor Malta, the winner in 1998 and last season.