Delta can confirm Gold Cup hopes
A fantastic week of racing kicked off with the final Group One of the Flat season in Britain yesterday evening and today Down Royal stages the first Grade One of the National Hunt season.
The new management of Down Royal could hardly have hoped for a better renewal of the newly named Ladbrokes Champion Chase which has attracted two serious Gold Cup contenders in Clan Des Obeaux and DELTA WORK (2.25, Down Royal).
Keith Donoghue is being rewarded for his hard work within the Elliott team by getting the nod to take over from Davy Russell on Delta Work until Jack Kennedy returns from injury and after a sterling day at Down Royal yesterday, Delta Work can lower the colours of Paul Nicholls' runner.
Nicholls has been a frequent supporter of this race and his presence is a brilliant addition to the two feature races here, but Delta Work ticked a lot of boxes last year and can further enhance his Gold Cup claims in a race that also features last year's winner Road To Respect.
A big weekend for Elliott includes the hurdling debut of Champion Bumper winner ENVOI ALLEN (1.15, Down Royal) is one of the most exciting horses to take to jumping this season. Entoucas will keep Envoi Allen honest but the latter looks like he could be a bit special.
Elliott's other big chance on this card is the Gigginstown-owned EASYWORK (4.05, Down Royal) in the concluding bumper with Jamie Codd on his back.
The other big race of the day is a Grade Two for second season novice chasers and although he is relatively quiet with his big names at this time of year, past form would suggest REAL STEEL (2.55, Down Royal) might shade this.
Nicky Henderson is also represented on the card and it must be significant that he is sending RATHHILL (1.50, Down Royal) for the Grade B North Down Marquees Handicap Hurdle and Barry Geraghty is booked to ride that lightly raced six-year-old.