Gordon Elliott would not swap “forgotten horse” Delta Work for any other in next month’s Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The seven-year-old – who will be ridden for the first time by Mark Walsh – was edged into third in last year’s RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at the Festival, but he has come of age in fine style this term, winning two of his three starts.
Victorious in the Savills Chase and the Irish Gold Cup, Delta Work now boasts five Grade One wins on his CV – and Elliott believes he will be perfectly suited by three and a quarter miles at Prestbury Park.
He said: “He’s all set for the Gold Cup. I don’t think he’s done much wrong over the last couple of seasons – he was lame after Down Royal (when he was beaten on his seasonal bow) and was just beaten in the RSA last year.
“It just didn’t work out for him in Cheltenham last season. It was probably my own fault, as I didn’t run him between Christmas and the RSA and he seems to be a horse that runs better when he runs more often.
“I think he’s made for the race. His style of racing will suit – going three-mile-two.
“He probably is a bit of a forgotten horse. He’s won five or six Grade Ones and gets the job done.”
Elliott certainly knows what it takes to the win the Gold Cup, having sent out Don Cossack to lift the prize in 2016, but he has plenty of respect for Delta Work’s likely Cheltenham rivals.
“It would be great to win another Gold Cup. You have to respect whatever Willie Mullins runs and I’d say he’s the biggest danger. Al Boum Photo and (the Nicky Henderson-trained) Santini are probably the two horses you’d respect most.
“I tend to worry about my own horses and let everybody else worry about theirs.
“I wouldn’t swap my horses, but I’m sure if you asked five or six other trainers they’d say the same.”
Jack Kennedy has ridden Delta Work to his last two wins, but he is currently on the sidelines with a broken femur, meaning a new rider will be required at Cheltenham – with Walsh confirmed as getting the nod.
Speaking after Walsh had ridden a winner in the Gigginstown House Stud colours at Punchestown, Elliott said: “Mark Walsh is going to ride him. Michael and Eddie (O’Leary) are the bosses and maybe it helped that he’s ridden a winner for them today!
“I was just told that he’s riding and I’m happy. He’s a world-class jockey, who has ridden loads of winners for us.
“He was a short enough price to ride him anyway. I’d imagine we’ll get him a sit on him somewhere.”
Walsh said: “It’s a great ride to get and I’m really looking forward to it.
“He was there last year and third in the RSA. It would be nice to have a Gold Cup on the CV, definitely.
“He’s beaten everything this year bar Al Boum Photo and they haven’t run against each other. He’s one of the best Irish horses going over.”