Delta Work a strong contender for Grade One glory in novice feature
Ground conditions and trip look tailor-made for Limini in mares hurdle at Leopardstown
Davy Russell on Delta Work claimed the Drinmore Novice Steeplechase from Barry Geraghty on Le Richebourg at Fairyhouse earlier this month. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud team produce five of the seven runners for Leopardstown’s Grade One novice highlight on Saturday although it is Delta Work that looks the clear No 1.
Delta Work is already a top-flight winner having landed the Drinmore at Fairyhouse earlier this month. The form of that race received a major boost this Christmas with Le Richebourg’s victory in Wednesday’s Racing Post Novice Chase.
If anything, the step up to three miles for the Neville Hotels Novice Chase should make Delta Work an even more formidable opponent in a seven-strong field dominated by Gigginstown.
Ben Dundee and Moonshine Bay are the only two runners not carrying the famous maroon colours.
Delta Work first made a significant big-race mark when landing the Pertemps Hurdle over three miles at the Cheltenham festival and was only just denied at the same distance, at Grade One level over flights, by Next Destination at Punchestown.
However the French-bred prospect has stepped up again over fences and looked a prime RSA Cheltenham contender by fighting back to beat Le Richebourg at Fairyhouse.
He again showed a fine attitude on that occasion and was authoritatively on top at the line despite Davy Russell losing an iron on the run-in.
The ones most likely to put it up to Delta Work are the other Gigginstown contenders and Blow By Blow could prove a much more potent opponent than he proved when well behind in that Drinmore.
Willie Mullins isn’t represented in the big novice event but is sure to have a big say in the Grade Three Advent Insurance Mares Hurdle with three runners including Limini and the French import Elimay.
With a 152 rating, Limini represents the benchmark for this event and should find both the ground conditions and the two and a half mile trip right up her street.
The versatile dual-purpose mare ran a fine race in the Hatton’s Grace behind Apple’s Jade and on figures looks a standout.
The intriguing runner though is Elimay who boasts some very smart hurdles form at Auteuil last year behind the talented Whestone.
She now races for JP McManus and as a four year old gets a handy weight allowance from her rivals. Elimay will be closely examined on her Irish debut although Limini is likely to prove the safest option for many.
Mullins is also likely to fancy his chances in the bumper where Mt Leinster can resume winning ways.
The highly-rated four year old won by 22 lengths at Ballinrobe in September but then ran into no less than Malone Road at Punchestown last month and came up over eight lengths short.
Considering how that performance was enough to propel Malone Road to the top of the betting for the Cheltenham bumper, there was no disgrace in that.
The experience alone should help Mt Leinster take a step forward and he can prove hard to beat.
His stable companion Castlebawn West lines up in a decent maiden hurdle earlier on the card which also includes Gordon Elliott’s Acronym.
It could be worth taking a shot on Myth Buster in this contest though as there was plenty to like about the way he belied 25-1 odds to run third to Ballyneety at Gowran last month.
Another Henry De Bromhead runner worth checking out on the Leopardstown card looks to be Minella Times who lines up in the novice handicap hurdle. A winner at Kilbeggan in May, Minella Times never looked like landing a blow on the easy winner Due Reward at Punchestown earlier this month.
However it was an encouraging effort that suggests the step up to two and a half miles should suit him well.