Delta Work put down a statement for Cheltenham Festival with a brilliant run to win the Irish Gold Cup at the beginning of February. Gordon Elliott’s charge produced an outstanding display to win the event, finishing ahead of a talented field to claim the crown.
The French thoroughbred will now turn his attentions to the ultimate prize of them all on the National Hunt – the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Elliott has only trained one winner in the event, which game back in 2016 when Don Cossack triumphed.
Delta Work has strong credentials to claim the victory, being backed at 9/2 in the horse racing betting odds to take his place in the most prestigious of winners’ circles. There will be stiff competition amid the quality of the reigning champion Al Boum Photo along with Santini. However, the seven-year-old should be well in contention down the stretch as long as he operates at his current level of form.
Last season at the Festival, Elliott put his charge forward for the RSA Novices’ Chase, having won on his last visit in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle. The French thoroughbred entered the event as the favourite after entering Cheltenham on the back of three-straight victories.
However, he failed to fire in the race as the speed of Topofthegame as too much for him to handle, while Santini also placed ahead of him. Delta Work notched a third-place finish as he produced a solid outing, but it was not the victory Elliott and Davy Russell in the saddle were targeting. He bounced back at the end of the campaign with a dominant performance at Punchestown, reaffirming his position as one of the leading chasers in British and Irish racing.
The seven-year-old struggled on his return to the track in the opening race of the 2019/20 campaign. He was off the pace at Down Royal in the Champion Chase, finishing 16 lengths behind Road To Respect down in fourth, while even his stable-mate Alpha des Obeaux put in a better outing in third.
Elliott’s charge needed to work his way back to form in December. Amid a talented field in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown, he was not expected to triumph. Russell at the reins got the best out of Delta Work at the right time. The bay gelding made his way through the field after a slow start to the contest. He found a surge of pace to compete down the stretch, despite making a slight mistake at the penultimate fence. The French thoroughbred jumped the last well and had the speed when it mattered the most to pull away from the field, edging out Monalee by a head for the win.
Delta Work, Kemboy and Presenting Percy jump the last together in the Irish Gold Cup…
…and it’s Delta Work that stays on gamest! Thrilling stuff ???pic.twitter.com/iGf520mi3u
— Great British Racing (@GBRacing) February 2, 2020
The victory over Monalee along with Kemboy, Road To Respect and Presenting Percy handed Delta Work momentum for the Irish Gold Cup. Despite his win in December, Kemboy was the favourite for the event ahead of Elliott’s charge. Delta Work proved his quality once again with a flawless run. Russell guided the horse gradually through the field towards the final fence. There he found his pace to take the lead into the stretch. Kemboy provided a challenge, but the seven-year-old fended off the attempts of his compatriot to close out the win by one-and-a-quarter lengths.
With two triumphs on the bounce behind him, Delta Work has the form to make a real charge for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. It will be a challenge to claim the ultimate prize perhaps needing a perfect performance. However, Elliott’s horse has all the attributes required to take his place in the winners’ circle come Friday at the Festival.