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Monday 3 February 2020

Is Delta Work the real-deal?

On Sunday, DELTA WORK powered through the yielding ground, and stayed on strongest of all (from off the pace) to put the 9yo Presenting Percy firmly in his place, and made sure that the 8yo Kemboy knew he had been in a race. It was a performance that puts him firmly in the picture for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, and is amongst the best we've seen over 3-miles this season.
Watching the race unfold, you cannot expect either Presenting Percy or Kemboy to reverse the places with Delta Work over the 3m2f Gold Cup trip, as stamina is something Delta Work does not lack.
So far, we've seen some great performances from Lostintranslation, Clan Des Obeaux, Santini, Native River and now Delta Work - and I cannot split them.
From those 5, it would seem that we can discount Clan Des Obeaux from the Gold Cup picture as he went into the race in tip-top form last season, he held every chance 2-out, but he found nothing in the final quarter-mile suggesting that the Gold Cup trip is slightly beyond him.
The old boy Native River finished in front of Clan Des Obeaux, passing him on the run-in. When he won the Gold Cup in 2018, Native River ran to a higher level (in my opinion) than Al Boum Photo did (when winning the Gold Cup) and it could be that he was still feeling the "burn" of that winning performance. However, when Native River won at Aintree in December (absolutely running the OR163 rated Black Corton ragged in the process) he looked at lot like his old self, and we could see a bold effort from the 10yo come March.  Native River is certainly capable of finishing in the 1st-3 in the Gold Cup and, in some respects, connections may be tempted to give the "Denman" chase on Saturday a miss and take him fresh to the Festival. 
Two other good 2nd-season chasers are Lostintranslation and Santini, and the former ran a stinker at Kempton in the "King George"(won by Clan Des Obeaux). However, before that he beat Bristol De Mai over his favourite C&D to win the Betfair Chase and a repeat of that form would see him thereabouts, but he does not have great speed figures and 7 of the last 10 CGC's have required a Speed Rating of 160+ to win, and Lostintranslation has not recorded better than 143.
Santini has a similar profile to Lostintranslation, but having had only 5 chase races to date, he could well have more improvement to come. However, I know he beat Bristol De Mai in January at Cheltenham but he looked a beaten horse 2-out.  Bristol De Mai looked very strong that day but (unfortunately) made a very bad error when jumping 3-out which cost him a lot of momentum. It took a supreme effort to get back in front from there - but he did - and that likely cost him the race.
I'm also a bit worried about the trip for Santini, as he failed to stay up the hill when 3rd in the Albert Bartlett (3-mile) Hurdle as a novice (for which he was 11/4 fav), and he failed to stay up the hill when 2nd to Topofthegame (having led over the final fence) in the 3-mile RSA Chase last March.
Yes, Delta Work was in 3rd that day, but he was tanking along in front coming to 2-out looking very much in control and it could be that the sharp bend before the 2nd-last fence caused him to have a 2nd-look at that fence which cost him momentum and the race.  He has since won 3 x Grade 1 chases over 3-mile, so his class is now not in any doubt.
So from this seasons performances I am siding with DELTA WORK, but is he good enough to beat AL BOUM PHOTO?
You have to go back to Imperial Commander in 2010 to find a Gold Cup winning performance with a speed rating better than ABP's 177 - and Imperial Commander was being chased home by Denman, who had recorded a Speed Rating of 178 when winning the Gold Cup in 2008. Those were heady days for staying chasers, and when you watch Al Boum Photo put the opposition in their place in the final quarter-mile of last seasons Gold Cup, you have to wonder is he better than we thought at the time?

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