Delta Work got back on the winning trail with a dominant display 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 was well fancied to bounce back as the 13-8 market leader.
With British raider Drovers Lane and Articulum disputing the lead for much of the extended three-mile journey, Davy Russell was happy to take his time on board Delta Work before allowing him to cruise to the lead before the home turn.
A Plus Tard briefly threatened to make a race of it, but Delta Work found another gear under a motionless Russell on the run to the last and winged the obstacle to seal a 12-length success.
Discorama was doing his best work at the finish and beat A Plus Tard to the runner-up spot, while Getabird travelled strongly for a long way but folded tamely.
Delta Work was cut to a best priced 14-1 for next year’s Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup and Elliott already has one eye on the blue riband next March.
Elliott said: “He showed today how good he is. At Cheltenham he never really got into a rhythm and nothing really worked out.
“Today he was very, very good and he could be anything – he’s a horse to really look forward to.
“I’ll have to speak to Michael and Eddie (O’Leary), but the Gold Cup will be the plan.
“I haven’t given him much work since he ran in Cheltenham – we’ve just kept him hacking away.
“We knew we were light of bullets this week, so it’s nice to get a Grade One on the board on the first day.”