Defi Du Seuil lacking Cheltenham swagger as he extends run
Triumph Hurdle winner Defi Du Seuil underlined his superiority in the juvenile hurdle division by winning the Doom Bar Anniversary 4YO Hurdle in authoritative fashion, despite jumping errors and a persistent challenge from Divin Bere.
Sent off the 4-11 favourite under Barry Geraghty, who missed the ride at Cheltenham, Defi Du Seuil travelled strongly throughout and, while he needed to be shaken up in the straight to make sure, Geraghty always seemed confident. A couple of slaps down the shoulder were all that was required to ensure success by one and a half lengths.
He became the fourth horse this century to double up in this race after the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, following Detroit City, Katchit and Zarkandar.
Trainer Philip Hobbs has had plenty of previous form with top juveniles and had won this race twice before with Lord Brex and Detroit City.
He said after the winning effort of Defi Du Seuil, who has now won all seven starts in Britain: "It's not so tough to keep one unbeaten when they're as good as he is. We've had some good juveniles, but he'd be right up there. He's amazingly tough."
A few dominant four-year-olds down the years have not hit the promised heights, but Hobbs does not have many worries on that score about Defi Du Seuil.
Marking a distinction with some of his previous top juveniles, he said: "He's not one of these juveniles to come off the Flat who've been in training since they were yearlings. He's by a jumps stallion and I’d be very surprised if he doesn't train on."
If, as hoped by more than just his connections, Defi Du Seuil does train on, all roads are likely to lead to the Stan James Champion Hurdle, for which he remained a best-priced 8-1. 'Likely' is still the term Hobbs prefers to use.
"We don’t have to make any decisions yet," he said. "It's a nice problem to have."
Divin Bere was second again, having filled the same spot in the Fred Winter, and trainer Nicky Henderson said: "He's been progressing all the way through and we gave the winner a race.
"He's a nice horse for the future and is one to look forward to. We'll put him away now. Next season will be tough for him against the Champion Hurdle horses."
Third, four and a half lengths behind the runner-up, was Bedrock, who gave way to the first two only after the last.
His trainer Dan Skelton said: "To drop him into a Grade 1 on just his second start and for him to run like that was great. He's an improving horse and we'll look for a maiden hurdle in early May, and even consider the Flat."