EASY WORK FOR ELLIOTT AT CHELTENHAM
Trainer Gordon Elliott registered a 34/1 double in the first two races on day three of the Cheltenham Festival following Delta Work's nose success over stable companion Glenloe in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle.
Backed into 6/1 from 9/1, the five-year-old son of Network, ridden by Davy Russell, edged a titanic tussle with Glenloe (9/2 favourite), partnered by Barry Geraghty, up the Cheltenham hill to provide Elliott and owners Gigginstown House Stud with a quickfire double following Shattered Love's success in the G1 JLT Novices' Chase.
Elliott, registering his fifth victory of the week and 19th overall at The Festival, commented: "It has been great day and the horses are flying. I think Glenloe was a bit unlucky because he missed the last and, had he jumped it, he probably would have won.
"To have the first and second in a race like that is unbelievable. I am very lucky with the staff I have along with the owners and the horses.
"Tuesday I thought it was going to be one of them weeks. But to have five winners now - I can't believe it.
"It was a great ride by Davy but I trained both horses so I didn't care which way the photo went!
"The horses are rolling on nicely now so I'm delighted."
Winning owner Michael O'Leary said: "I thought that we had probably lost it on the bob of heads but at least it was Gordon one and two, so I think he was the one who was most relaxed about the outcome.
"Delta Work has improved and had a light weight, so he had a chance but he needed luck in running. Davy had him in a lovely position the whole way round - he was tracking in mid-division. I thought that he was cut out of it just after the last but he had enough horse under him to go again.
"It was a great finish with two master jockeys going hammer and tongs, a terrific finish. Davy is a master jockey and is terrific in these handicaps. He rides Cheltenham brilliantly and is worth a couple of pounds around here."
2.10pm Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
1 DELTA WORK (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott IRE 5-10-10 Davy Russell 6/1
2 GLENLOE (JP McManus) Gordon Elliott IRE 7-10-08 Barry Geraghty 9/2 fav
3 CONNETABLE (Chris Giles & Dan Macdonald) Paul Nicholls 6-10-07 Harry Cobden 33/1
4 TAJ BADALANDABAD (W Frewen) David Pipe 8-10-09 Tom Scudamore 40/1
Distances: nse, 2¾, 2½
Tote Win: £7.50 Places: £2.40, £1.80, £8.90, £11.50 Exacta: £40.30
Gordon Elliott - 19th winner at The Festival
Davy Russell - 20th winner at The Festival
BetBright Cup - standings after 16 races
Ireland 11Great Britain 5
RUSSELL WORKS IT OUT
Davy Russell's victory aboard the Gordon Elliott-trained Delta Work in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle means that the Cork-born jockey has won the competitive race for three consecutive years. He took it in 2016 on Maldini, and rode Presenting Percy - on whom he won yesterday's RSA Insurance Novices' Chase - to success in 2017.
Delta Work, owned by Gigginstown House Stud, who also won the preceding JLT Novices' Chase with Shattered Love, was sent off at odds of 6/1 and beat his stable-mate Glenloe by a nose. He was Davy Russell's 20th Festival triumph in total.
Russell said: "I thought it was very close. At the back of the last I thought I was going to win. It was nip and tuck and just a matter of a bob of the head, really.
"I had a great spin all the way around. It was a great, competitive handicap - I'd say the handicapper can be very proud of himself as there wasn't an inch to be given all the way around. Fair play to everyone.
"Coming over [to Cheltenham] I thought he [Delta Work] was a really nice chance. The only thing was that we weren't expecting this ground, and he has disappointed on this ground in the past, so that was a worry."
GLENLOE A BIG BABY
There was a 1-2 for trainer Gordon Elliott in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle when Delta Work beat Glenloe (9/2 favourite) in a photo, by a nose.
Barry Geraghty, rider of the runner-up, believes there could be better to come from the seven-year-old.
"He is a big baby and just looked around - there's a lot to look at in Cheltenham," said Geraghty. "I was shoving him at the final flight but I knew that he wasn't looking, so I left him, he flicked over it and lost a bit of momentum. The winner battled really well and I wasn't getting past him. He ran a good race."
Third-placed Connetable may have been a 33/1 shot but his good run was not a total surprise to trainer Paul Nicholls.
"He could have just done with a bit of company in front and he ran a great race," said Nicholls. "He wasn't beaten far at Musselburgh two runs ago and Harry (Cobden) said we wouldn't be far away today. I thought we might need to go up a couple of pounds to get in today so I then ran him at Chepstow and he was terrible. He was never going and I don't know why. He's been a bit in and out.
"I don't know what we'll do now but I think he'll go back over fences next season. He's already won a chase and we could aim him at the Welsh National. He stays forever and likes this ground."
Harry Cobden, rider of Connetable, said: "He ran really well. We went a nice steady gallop all the way. I wanted to save a bit for the hill and he quickened up really well. He has run a blinder, pinged the last and really was only beaten by two better handicapped horses."
Tom Scudamore, jockey of fourth-placed Taj Badalandabad (40/1), said: "He ran a tremendous race. He will make a very nice chaser."