Jack Kennedy declared “that’s racing” as he had to sacrifice the ride on Gold Cup winner Minella Indo – on his seasonal comeback at Down Royal – after his boss Gordon Elliott informed him he must instead partner Delta Work.
Kennedy was chosen by Henry de Bromhead to ride Minella Indo at the Cheltenham Festival when his stable jockey Rachael Blackmore preferred the claims of A Plus Tard – the eventual Gold Cup runner-up.
It was announced earlier this week Kennedy would maintain the winning partnership in Saturday’s Ladbrokes Champion Chase. But at declaration time on Thursday morning, his name also appeared alongside Delta Work – and following clarification, it has emerged Blackmore will ride Minella Indo.
Kennedy said: “Minella Indo gave me the biggest day of my career so far. But that’s racing – and I wish Barry Maloney, Henry, Rachael and the horse all the best.
“You never know what might happen in the future – I might get back on him at some point.
“Minella Indo felt in good form and jumped very well when I schooled him during the week, so he is in good old nick.
“I’m looking forward to getting back on Delta Work, and hopefully he’ll be bang there.
“He did himself an injury the last day he ran, and it knocked him out for the rest of the season. Touch wood he is fit and healthy and in good form, and I’m looking forward to riding him.
“He has been very good to me, and hopefully we will have a few more good days together.”
The first Grade 1 chase of the new National Hunt season has attracted a stellar five-strong field – and while in the past the presence of the current Gold Cup holder might have frightened off any serious opposition, this year’s race promises to be riveting.
Paul Nicholls’ Frodon continued to surprise last year – and having won the Ryanair in 2019, he took his form to a new level last Christmas, making every yard of the running in Kempton’s showpiece.
Having failed to see out the Gold Cup trip, he then bounced back on the final day of the season at Sandown to take the Oaksey Chase.
He is the winner of 17 races in his career, and Bryony Frost will be seeking her 10th success on his back.
Galvin is the unknown quantity for Elliott. He has won his last six, including the National Hunt Chase last March when with Ian Ferguson while Elliott served his suspension.
This represents a big step up in class, and will be his first run in a Grade One over fences. As well as Delta Work, Elliott also runs Ravenhill.
Envoi Allen also returns to action, on something of a retrieval mission in the Join Racing TV Chase.
A faller on his first run for de Bromhead at Cheltenham after being switched from Elliott by owners Cheveley Park Stud, he then went wrong at Punchestown and was pulled up.
That was Blackmore’s first time riding him, and with Davy Russell required to ride for Elliott, she is back on board this weekend.
Elliott’s Coko Beach and Vado Forte take him on, along with Fairyhill Run in a field of six.