Defi Du Seuil won a thrilling renewal of the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown when coming out on top in a pulsating finish to fend off previous winner Un De Sceaux – prompting bookmakers to cut him in the ant post betting for both the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.
The Phlip Hobbs trained six-year-old, 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, was given a masterful ride by regular partner Barry Geraghty. A stellar field of eight went to post for the feature contest and Defi Du Seuil was sent off a well-backed 2/1 favourite on the back of an impressive win in the Grade 2 Shloer Chase at Cheltenham last month.
Ornua took the field along for much of the two-mile contest, before Willime Mullins’ ultra-tough and multiple Grade 1 winning 11-year-old Un De Sceaux took over racing down the back straight in the hands of Paul Townend. Geraghty was quick to cover the more on Defi Du Seuil, who jumped and travelled well throughout, and the pair rounded the final turn both travelling strongly.
Un De Sceaux then kicked and momentarily seemed to his rival in serious trouble, but Defi Du Seuil responded well to Graghty’s urgings and after getting on terms looked set to win decisively after touching down in front after the final fence. However, Defi Du Seuil then began to idlde and Un De Sceaux, successful in the race in 2016, rallied strongly up the stiff uphill run-in to go down by just a neck.
I thought Defi Du Seuil never looked like getting caught and feel there was plenty left in the locker despite the narrow margin at the line as he ideally needs to be produced as late as possible.
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Hobbs undecided as regards future assignments
“It was a very long run-in! I thought at the last he would win quite well, but he has run a fantastic race.
“He jumped beautifully and Barry thinks he will have learnt a bit from today – going that pace with Grade One horses. “Touch wood he is very sound and has a fantastic attitude.”
He was in no rush to commit to future targets for Defi Du Seuil, including the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, but hinted that plans for Nicky Henderson’s dual Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Altior could have an impact as to his ultimate target at the four-day extravaganza next March.
Henderson has not yet confirmed whether his charge will revert to two miles after suffering his first defeat over jumps at Ascot last month, or step up in distance for the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
“I suppose the obvious race is the Clarence House at Ascot, but at this stage we’ve not thought about it. Today was the main thing then worry about it afterwards.
“Opposition will be important as well, as to what races we might pinpoint. He is very versatile so we could go any trip with him.”
Ideal attributes for Queen Mother Champion Chase
I personally think it would be a crying shame if Defi Du Seuil did not run in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. He is a strong travelling sort who jumps well and has a potent turn of foot – and those are the ideal attributes for the race which is far more prestigious than the Ryanair over half a mile further.
The Queen Mother is traditionally run at a breakneck end-to-end gallop, so the ability to stay further is a plus in my book rather than a negative. Defi Du Seuil will be able to stalk the leaders and if within striking distance at the final fence I feel that he will prove too strong on the run-in when asked for his final effort.
He has a superb record at Cheltenham and can be backed at a tempting 5/1 with William Hill to enhance it with victory in the 2020 Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Defi Du Seuil is currently the 6/1 joint favourite with Paddy Power for the Ryanair Chase, but I real really do hope that he ends up in the Queen Mother and given the chnace to prove that he is the crack up and coming two mile chaser in training.