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Delta Work
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Cheltenham Festival: Delta Work

He'll be forever recalled as the horse that prevented Tiger Roll from a true fairytale Cheltenham farewell, but can Delta Work emulate his former stablemate with another Cross Country win?

As the countdown for the 2023 Cheltenham Festival intensifies, we are taking a look at some of the horses expected to play major roles in the Cotswolds. 

Last March, Delta Work and Jack Kennedy came up the Cheltenham hill with a flourish and overhauled Tiger Roll to win his first Cross Country race. 

He's being aimed at another, but it's improbable he can come up with anything quite as dramatic as last time.

WhatCross Country Chase 
WhereCheltenham Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire
When4.10, Wednesday 15th March, 2023
How to watchITV Racing, Racing TV & bet365’s Sports Live Streaming
OddsDelta Work 5/4, Good Bye Same 12/1, Hip Hop Conti 12/1, Prengarde 14/1, Back On The Lash 16/1, Samcro 20/1, Minella Times 25/1

Delta Work spoils the fairytale ending

If ever proof was required that sport, and certainly racing in particular, doesn't really do sentiment, then it was Delta Work's victory in the Cross Country Chase at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival. 

Gordon Elliott's charge had lost his way over regulation fences and connections decided that a crack at the varied and unusual set of obstacles that makes up the Cross Country race might reinvigorate him. 

With classy form in his back-catalogue, punters also felt it could be so and, come post-time, he had usurped the great Tiger Roll in the betting and went off 5/2 fav ahead of his Elliott-trained stablemate. 

Both owned by Gigginstown House Stud, it would play out as their own personal duel once the other contenders had one by one fallen by the wayside on the three-and-three-quarter-mile dash around the Gloucestershire countryside. 

Turning up the home run, it looked as though Tiger Roll was going to bring the house down by winning a fourth Cross Country and notching the sixth Festival win of his career on what was to be his final start. 

Battle as the little warrior did, it just wasn't meant to be – Davy Russell's partner was thwarted in the final 100 yards by the dream-stealing Delta Work. 

It was a surreal moment and, as Kennedy and Delta Work headed back to the winners' enclosure, they were joined by the runner-up in the sort of unique moment that only the Cheltenham Festival can create.

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Delta Work still has the class 

Delta Work went on and finished third in the Grand National at Aintree behind Noble Yeats a few weeks later, illustrating that he retains plenty of the qualities that yielded three Grade 1 wins as a novice chaser in the 2018/19 season, and a Savills Chase and Irish Gold Cup double the following campaign. 

He peaked at a rating of 171 after defeating Kemboy in that Leopardstown showpiece in February 2020 and would finish fifth as Al Boum Photo won the Cheltenham version a month later. 

From there, however, he lost his way a little. His performances weren't bad as such – but he appeared to have faltered as a genuine Grade 1 staying chaser and was only sixth of eight as stablemate Conflated won the Irish Gold Cup last season. 

That prompted a crack at the Cross Country and once there, Delta Work certainly made a name for himself.

The one to beat again 

Victorious in the Risk Of Thunder Chase at Punchestown in November's comeback, Elliott's charge ran a fine third as Back On The Lash won the Cross Country race on Trials Day in Cheltenham in January. 

That was a handicap, seeing him concede more than a stone to the pair that finished ahead of him and, on level weights, many will see the 15th March contest as a major chance to have his revenge. 

He's 5/4 market leader to retain this particular crown, with Back On The Lash as big as 16/1 to maintain superiority this time on revised terms. 

He may have been a dream-stealer in 2022, but as the strong ante-post favourite for further Cross Country glory this season, few winners at the Cheltenham Festival will be more popular than this ten-year-old if he can oblige again over the whiskey barrels, cheese wedges, banks and bushes that make up the Cross Country course.

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