'Jack wasn't looking beyond him' - Kennedy picks Delta Work in top-class Savills
Savills Chase (Grade 1) | 3m | RTE2/RTV
Rarely has the Leopardstown parade ring been as laden with talent as it will be ahead of this terrific running of a race steeped in Irish racing history.
The Savills Chase had the makings of being the best race run this Christmas and the declarations have not disappointed.
Previous winners Delta Work and Kemboy face a fleet of young talent in Minella Indo, Samcro, Allaho and Fakir D'Oudairies, while a rejuvenated Presenting Percy adds further intrigue.
There are ten horses rated 160 or more. To put that into context, the average number of horses rated north of 160 to have contested this race throughout the past decade is four.
When Ruby Walsh galvanised Tidal Bay to come from an unpromising position back in 2012, widely considered one of the greatest runnings of this race, only four horses rated 160 did battle.
The strength in depth is incredible and, while the reigning Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo remains on course for his tried-and-tested route to Cheltenham by heading to Tramore on New Year's Day, it is likely this race will cause ripples in the market for the festival highlight.
Monday's tipping and analysis:
Delta Work comes alive around Leopardstown. Gordon Elliott's charge has won three of his four starts at the track, including in this race and the Irish Gold Cup last season.
While he lacked spark on his return at Down Royal, he usually comes on for his first run of the season and Elliott revealed Jack Kennedy did not have to think twice about riding last year's winner over Presenting Percy and Samcro.
Willie Mullins has an outstanding record in the Irish Gold Cup and has won that race ten times, but his record in this over the same course and distance is the polar opposite.
It took Mullins until 2015 to win his first Savills Chase with Don Poli, while Kemboy became the champion trainer's second scorer in 2018.
Paul Townend has opted against riding Kemboy in preference for Allaho, a well-beaten sixth in a foggy John Durkan Chase on his return but a solid third in last season's RSA Chase.
On that occasion, there was just a length between Allaho and Minella Indo (second), with the latter coming into this contest off the back of two impressive victories in lesser company this season.
He may be open to the most improvement out of last season's staying novices and rates as a serious challenger in this stellar line-up.
'Delta Work seems to love Leopardstown'
Jack Kennedy had the pick of Delta Work, Presenting Percy and Samcro but according to Gordon Elliott his ace rider did not have to think twice about who he was going to ride.
It was always going to be Delta Work and it is hard to argue with that as Kennedy gets a grand tune out of the five-time Grade 1 winner.
Kennedy has been aboard for two of those top-level triumphs, the sidelined Davy Russell having partnered Delta Work to the other three. As well as snaring this race last year, Kennedy and Delta Work won the Irish Gold Cup over the same course and distance.
Elliott is predicting a bold showing from the Gigginstown-owned chaser back at his favourite racecourse.
"Delta Work seems to love Leopardstown and we know he always comes forward for his first run of the season," the trainer said. "Jack had the pick of the three of ours but he was never going to look beyond Delta Work."
Presenting Percy appeared to be back to his best when beating Kemboy and Monalee at Thurles last month under Kennedy, with Denis O’Regan taking the ride aboard the 2018 RSA winner.
Elliott's three-pronged attack is completed by Samcro, the dual Cheltenham festival winner who will be stepping up to this trip for the first time since his point-to-point win back in 2016.
Elliott said: "We were very happy with Presenting Percy at Thurles and are also looking forward to running him as well. Samcro has been working very well at home lately but he is stepping into the unknown over three miles."
What they say
Henry de Bromhead, trainer of A Plus Tard, Balko Des Flos and Minella Indo
We thought this trip was worth trying with A Plus Tard. He is somewhat limited by only going left-handed so it was this or the two-mile chase on Sunday. We said we’d try him over three miles. He seems very adaptable. Minella Indo is well and it’s obviously a very good race but we’re looking forward to seeing how he gets on first time in this company. Balko Des Flos is also in very good form.
Willie Mullins, trainer of Kemboy, Allaho, Melon, Tornado Flyer, Easy Game
Our horses could run well and still not finish in the first three. It is probably as good a race as the Cheltenham Gold Cup will be. Kemboy likes the track but the ground might be too soft. Paul has gone for Allaho and I wouldn't be surprised if he were to run well.
Noel Meade, trainer of Tout Est Permis
We felt he ran below par last time so we're trying him in blinkers for the first time just to see if we can add a little bit of zip.
Monday's previews and analysis:
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