Over Cheltenham's famous cheese wedges there is no
doubt who is the grand fromage of the Festival's cross country chase, writes James Toney.
Keith Donoghue took his personal tally to four wins - drawing level with 'Queen of the Banks' Nina Carberry - as Delta Work defended the title he won last year from under the nose of two-time Grand National winner Tiger Roll.
And if Donoghue knows how the navigate the unique three-mile course, with its strangely named fences, so does Gordon Elliott.
The trainer scored his second win of the Festival and has seen horses he has trained win six of the last seven renewals.
Indeed, the only horse to really threaten Delta Work, given a perfect patient ride by Donoghue, was his Cullentra House stable mate Galvin, his final winning margin two and a half lengths.
"He's very tough and I knew the ground would suit and he'd stay well," said Donoghue.
"When I saw Galvin looming I did get a bit worried. This lad is tough, he battled away and as soon as I went clear, his ears just pricked. Gordon is some trainer and it's easy when you are riding for him.
“He loves these fences and so do I. Four wins feels pretty special but it helps when you are riding horses like Delta Work and Tiger Roll."
Jack Kennedy, missing from Cheltenham with a broken leg, watched from the parade ring, though owner Michael O'Leary insists he will get the ride when Delta Work travels to Aintree for another tilt at the Grand National next month.
Third to Noble Yeats last April, having narrowly played the role of party pooper against his then stablemate Tiger Roll in his farewell Festival race, the ten-year-old heads to Merseyside well weighted and one to watch.
“It’s great to have the one-two,” said Elliott. “I love the Cross Country race and that was special. Both horses will go to the Grand National now.
“Once the two of them got over the last, I didn’t mind who won. Galvin will come on from it but if I’m being honest, I was hoping today would be Delta’s day. We have trained him all year for this race and the Grand National.
“It’s great to see Jack Kennedy here in the ring with us, the team player that he is. These are all his horses to ride and when he’s back he’ll be on them. It’s important he knows that. He is first jockey at Cullentra now.
“I don’t care what wins, I just love winning. A winner is all I want and the horses are all running well. We are absolutely delighted.”