Defi Du Seuil further enhanced his Cheltenham Festival claims with a stunning success in the 2m 1f Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot. The Philip Hobbs trained seven-year-old had narrowly beaten Un De Sceaux in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown last month, but this time he laughed at Willie Mullins’ 10-time Grade 1 and dual Cheltenham Festival winner and brushed him aside with consummate ease.
Under a confident ride from regular pilot Barry Geraghty, Defi Du Seuil stalked the trailblazing Un De Sceaux before looming up large at the second last. He then tanked his way to the front and pulled effortlessly clear approaching the last with Greaghty looking around for non existent dangers. Defi Du Seuil was then eased down in the last 110 yards to win impressively by 2 3/4 lengths. Un De Sceaux, a three-time winner of the 2m showpiece, stuck to his guns to be second, with Marracudja third.
I thought Defi Du Seuil could not have won any more stylishly and bookmakers were not surprisingly quick to react. The JP McManus owned gelding, who is already a dual Grade 1 winner at the Cheltenham Festival having captured the Triumph Hurdle in 2017 and this year’s JLT Novices’ Chase, is now a top priced 9/4 shot with William Hill for the 2m Grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase on day two of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.
He has usurped current reigning champ and dual winner of the race Altior at the head of the betting and in my view is a worthy favourite. Defi Du Seuil is improving with every outing and is now unbeaten in three starts this season. He is clever when getting in close to a fence and has a huge engine and a potent turn of foot.
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Hobbs stunned by ease of success
He does also have the option of running in the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase over 2m 4f at the Cheltenham Festival, for which he can be backed at 8/1 with Paddy Power, but connections will surely now go down the Queen Mother route.
A delighted Hobbs said after the Clarence House that would now more than likely be the case.
“Obviously we were very hopeful we might win again, but I couldn’t imagine he was going to win that easily.
“I’m just very surprised how easily he did it. We were hoping we would beat Un De Sceaux again, but by no means was it certain we were going to beat him. It was unexpected to beat him like that. When you are travelling very easily, you do appear to go past them very quickly.
“He travelled and jumped. He could have done with a stronger pace, maybe, but he jumped well throughout. It certainly wasn’t the plan to be in front when he was, but I suppose he had no option.
He added:“Nothing is definite as regards his Cheltenham target. There’s no need for us to decide now. He’s in the Ryanair as well as the Champion Chase.
“I suppose with the pace he showed there it’s a bit more likely, the Champion Chase, but we’ll see nearer the time.
“To be honest I think he can go any trip, so it doesn’t really matter. We have got lots of options. Having done that today the Champion Chase does become more likely, as he has done it so well, but I think he can get any trip and I think you could go three miles if you wanted to.”
Triumph Hurdle hope Goshen extends unbeaten run
Goshen is now 7/1 with Paddy Power for the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle on the final day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival after extending his unbeaten record over the osba les with a facile wide-margin success in the Ascot IJF Ambassador Programme Juvenile Hurdle on Clarence House Chase day at the Berkshire venue.
The Gary Moore-trained four-year-old added to victories at Fontwell and Sandown, when defying a double penalty to defeat Nordano by 11 lengths after being sent off the 1/5 favourite.
He settled much better in front than in both his previous victories, but did jump out markedly to the right on several occasions.
That would have to be a concern for his supporters as regards the Triumph where such antics would prove very costly. However, Goshen was found to have lost both his front shoes after the race – so that may have been a contributory factor to him jumping out right.