Gigginstown Side with Keith Donoghue on Samcro & Delta Work

Gigginstown Side with Keith Donoghue on Samcro & Delta Work

Keith Donoghue will take over from Davy Russell onboard the Gigginstown House Stud owned Delta Work in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase this Saturday at Down Royal, as well as picking up another plum ride in the shape of Samcro on Friday.

Donoghue, best known for his two Cheltenham Festival victories aboard Tiger Roll, has been in great form in the saddle after scoring two wins from two rides last weekend at Galway on Battleoverdoyen and Eclair De Beafeu.

Gigginstown House Stud's racing manager Eddie O'Leary explained the decision to opt with Donoghue over Davy Russell to the Racing Post: "We have no retained rider. We have a big panel of jockeys who we will be rotating all season.

“Keith will ride Delta Work, but that doesn't mean Davy will not be riding for us. He will probably be riding something else in the race, and he will have plenty of rides for us as the season goes on."

He added: "Keith is a very good rider who has done all the work with Delta Work and Samcro over the last few months. As I said, we have no retained rider. We have a terrific panel of jockeys to choose from."

Gigginstown use several of the leading jockeys in National Hunt racing. As well as Davy Russell, they regularly engage the services of Jack Kennedy (currently injured), Rachael Blackmore, Mark Enright, Mark Walsh, Sean Flanagan and Robbie Power.

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Weight Issues

This weekend could be career-defining for 26-year-old Donoghue, who after a prolonged battle with his weight had previously walked away from the sport indefinitely.

In a recent self-penned column on odds comparison site he explained: "Mentally or physically I wasn't in a great place when I walked away in 2017, but I had to stop as my body just couldn't keep doing it. I was up at 12 stone and my weight was even going up higher from that despite my best efforts. It all just got on top of me and I just couldn't put myself through it anymore."

Missing the winning ride on Labaik at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival made it even harder, but trainer Gordon Elliott persuaded him to return to the saddle and his career has gone from strength to strength ever since.

He continued: "It was a difficult time, and missing the ride on Labaik to win at Cheltenham made it even harder. Gordon just got onto me saying that even if I could only do 11-12 he wanted me back - once I'd given myself a break my weight settled down."

"If I didn't have belief in my own ability and if I didn't have Gordon, I don't think I'd still be a jockey."

Delta Work In "Great Form"

Donoghue has reported on the #racehour podcast that both Delta Work and Samcro were working well ahead of their respective races this weekend.

On Delta Work he said: "I sit on him every day and I can report he is in great form and very well in himself. Delta Work has to step up to senior level now, but I wouldn't swap him for any other horse in the division!"

Samcro had a very disappointing season last year, but Donoghue thinks he might be back to his best now: "Samcro looks like he'll be starting at Down Royal and his work of late suggests the best version of him might be back this season.

“Last year he never looked or scoped right after work and he just couldn't get going at all - this year is a completely different story! He has that spark back, and a proper shine in his coat. You can only be excited to see him in this form."

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