PHILIP Hobbs believes Ascot will suit Defi Du Seuil perfectly as his stable star bids to add another Grade One to a growing list in the Matchbook Clarence House Chase.
The seven-year-old has won 12 times for Hobbs since arriving from France, including two successes at the Cheltenham Festival, and has become a standard-bearer for owner JP McManus.
And today’s test sees jump racing’s new star reoppose the veteran Un De Sceaux after the pair fought out a thrilling renewal of Sandown’s Tingle Creek Chase last month when the Hobbs horse just prevailed on the punishing uphill run-in after the last fence.
“I would have thought Ascot would suit him well. He copes with the undulations at Cheltenham fine and at Ascot you are going downhill the far side. He certainly copes with a stiff track, which Ascot is from Swinley Bottom to the line,” said Hobbs.
“Last time when he won the Tingle Creek, he travelled so well between the last two. He jumped the last particularly well and as it turned out he probably ended up in front too early, but that wasn’t Barry’s (Geraghty) fault.
“He is quite stuffy and he needs a fair bit of work. He eats well and as a result he needs plenty of work. He is massively easy to train and is very easy to ride. He always comes out of his box with his ears pricked in the morning and has a little jog – he is just happy to get on with it.
“He is mentally and physically very tough and has such a fantastic attitude to life. He is very straightforward as he travels well and I suppose that is why we are going two miles with him. Most horses go up in trip because they are not quick enough to go shorter.”
Win or lose today, Hobbs does not believe Defi Du Seuil’s Festival target will be set in stone until March, with the two-and-a-half-mile Ryanair Chase in the mix along with the Champion Chase over the minimum trip of two miles.
“As far as the Festival is concerned, no matter what happens on Saturday, provided he is all right I’m sure there will be no quick decision as to what he will run in as there is no point,” he said.