Delta Work pips Monalee to win Savills Chase at Leopardstown
Delta Work produced a strong finish to win the Savills Chase at Leopardstown by a head from long-time leader Monalee with 2018 winner Kemboy back in fourth.
Ridden by Jack Kennedy, 11-2 shot Delta Work just got up to deny Rachael Blackmore victory on Monalee (8-1).
It was a huge improvement for Gordon Elliott's six-year-old who could be a contender for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Ireland's top staying novice last season, Delta Work had disappointed at Down Royal in November.
It had looked set for a place at best turning into the straight as Kennedy, who earlier took the other Grade One feature on Apple's Jade as part of a treble, was asking his mount for everything.
Kemboy (7-4 favourite), who had been keen throughout, Road To Respect, Presenting Percy and the outsider Jett all held chances at some stage, but Monalee had seemingly seen them all off in the three-mile feature.
Unfortunately for Blackmore, she lost an iron after the last and kicked the other one free as Delta Work began to close.
There was nothing in it at the line, but Delta Work got the verdict by a head and Road To Respect (7-2) was third.
The winner was cut from 25 to 10-1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March by Betfair.
Apple's Jade rediscovered winning form to take the Frank Ward Memorial Hurdle for a third successive year.
County Meath trainer Elliott's star mare had been well below her best for most of 2019, but there was late confidence in the market that she would return to something like the sparkling form she showed in the first half of last season and she was sent off the 6-4 joint-favourite with Bacardys.
Despite giving ground away by repeatedly jumping out to her right, Jack Kennedy kicked on a mile from home and Killultagh Vic could no longer live with her.
Unowhatimeanharry and Penhill tried to close running to the last, but Apple's Jade had plenty left in reserve to win at the highest level for the 11th time, triumphing by 17 lengths.
BBC horse racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght
An intriguing race this, and not just for the winner demonstrating his talents along with his jockey who's currently brimming with the confidence of winners.
You have to think Monalee was luckless with his rider having a stirrup problem just when she'd have wanted to have all means of encouragement possible at her disposal.
Kemboy ran OK for his first run for a bit, and those who believe Presenting Percy has the abilities to land one of jumping's very biggest prizes will not have been discouraged by his effort in fifth.