Gordon Elliott is hopeful Delta Work can get back on the winning trail in the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown.
The Gigginstown House Stud-owned six-year-old has been the star performer in Ireland’s staying novice division this season – winning his first three starts over fences including successive Grade One wins at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown.
He could only finish third when a hot favourite to claim his second Cheltenham Festival success in the RSA Chase, but even a reproduction of that run will make him hard to beat on Tuesday.
Elliott said: “It was always the plan to come back to Punchestown with Delta Work after he ran at Cheltenham.
“He ran well at the Punchestown Festival as a novice hurdler last year, so we know he likes the track.
“The ground should be ideal for him and I’m hoping the can end his season on a high.”
Delta Work’s chief rivals are Henry de Bromhead’s Cheltenham handicap winner A Plus Tard and the Willie Mullins-trained Getabird, who has been off the track since suffering a narrow defeat at Limerick over the Christmas period, but is a three-time winner at Punchestown.
Mullins’ assistant, David Casey, said: “Getabird is in good form. We missed Cheltenham and Aintree with him as he’s definitely more comfortable going right-handed.
“He was unlucky not to win in Limerick over Christmas after making a bad mistake at the last.
“This looks a tough race, but he likes the track and I think the step up to three miles will be a huge help to him.
“It’s a very good race, but hopefully he’ll be competitive.”
De Bromhead also saddles Chris’s Dream, while Terence O’Brien runs Arkle Trophy third Articulum.
British hopes rest on the Rebecca Curtis-trained Drovers Lane, while Paul Nolan’s Discorama and Aidan Howard’s Winter Escape make up the field.
The latter is making a swift reappearance after finishing a well-beaten third in the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse just over a week ago.
Frank Berry, racing manager to Winter Escape’s owner JP McManus, said: “We were a bit disappointed with him in the Ryanair Gold Cup, but maybe the ground was quicker than he liked.
“He has plenty to do on Tuesday as it also looks a cracking race, but hopefully he can run well.”