Cheltenham - At The Races

Defi Du Seuil powers to Triumph Hurdle glory at Cheltenham

    Defi Du Seuil was a different class in the JCB Triumph Hurdle as champion jockey Richard Johnson recorded a second victory at this year's Cheltenham Festival.
  • Friday 17 March 2017
  • News

Defi Du Seuil was a different class in the JCB Triumph Hurdle as champion jockey Richard Johnson recorded a second victory at this year's Cheltenham Festival.

The Philip Hobbs-trained four-year-old, who is owned by JP McManus, had long been ante-post favourite for this Grade One affair having excelled during the winter with five wins on the spin.

And fears the ground would be too quick for him were soon allayed as he operated on a different level to his rivals en route to a five-length success as the 5-2 favourite.

Johnson said: "He was brilliant. He's a horse who has improved every time. Philip's brought him along nicely and he's a very nice horse to look forward to.

"I was a passenger all the way to be honest, he travelled and jumped.

"I spoke to Barry (Geraghty), who would have ridden him, and it must be very hard for him watching, but he told me exactly how to ride him.

"It's hard for juveniles to make the jump to the Champion Hurdle, but he's not a typical juvenile as he's not an ex-Flat horse.

"He's done everything so well and hopefully there's a lot more to come."

Mega Fortune cut out much of the running along with stablemate Dinaria Des Obeaux, but Johnson was perfectly happy to bide his time on Defi Du Seuil.

The complexion of the race rarely altered until the second-last flight, when the winner cruised into contention under his stealthy pilot.

Ex Patriot - who got loose before the start - fleetingly looked a danger after the last, while Bapaume stayed on with a hint of danger for the in-form Willie Mullins team.

But the Hobbs inmate was much too good and much too classy for the on-rushing Irish challenge as he willingly crossed the line with plenty in hand over the game Mega Fortune.

Bapaume finished third, another short head away, with Ex Patriot fourth.

McManus' other runners, Landofhopeandglory and the much-vaunted Charli Parcs, were fifth and sixth respectively.

Hobbs said: "He's such a fantastic horse. His jumping overall is mustard. He could win an Arkle or a Champion Hurdle.

"It's a big relief as he's been favourite all year - it's great when it goes right.

"He travelled so well, we were so lucky to get him. He could go Champion Hurdle or Arkle next year, we'll have to see."

Hobbs went on: "He always jumps well. There was one or two little hiccups at Chepstow when he won. Because he had never run on good ground there was a bit of a concern, but there was no reason why he shouldn't have handled it.

"He has run six times and has won them all very easily, so I don't know whether that was a career best. We've not schooled him over fences, but he will be mustard over them.

"We shouldn't get too bullish, too early. He has a fantastic attitude, is very sound and has got fantastic ability.

"He is tough as old boots. The difference with Rooster Booster (Hobbs' Champion Hurdle winner) is that he never really jumped fences. This horse has always jumped well and there is no reason he won't jump fences at all.

"When you have a horse that keeps on winning, when they are beat the bubble is burst and because he is unbeaten for us we don't know how good he might be.

"We've taken another big step up today."