By ANDREW ATKINSON
DEFI DU SEUIL – tipped by The Leader to win the opening race on Gold Cup day on day 4 of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival – obliged when winning at 5-2.
Jockey Richard Johnson produced Defi Du Seuil with perfect timing, to lead going towards the final hurdle, in the JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) over 2 miles.
“He travelled and jumped. He has improved all year, all credit. He travelled so easy. Two out he jumped so well,” said delighted Johnson.
Defi Du Seuil has been earmarked to run in the 2018 Champion Hurdle, and Johnson said: “I don’t know whether he’s a Champion Hurdle horse, but he improves every time.”
Jubilant trainer Philip Hobbs said after Defi Du Seuil’s 5 lengths win, ahead of Mega Fortune and Bapaume: “It is great when it all goes right. He could run in the Arkle next year – or The Champion Hurdle!”.
*Defi Du Seuil was The Leader’s SIXTH winning tip at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, following on from Thursday’s 16-1 treble. Cause of Causes (4-1) was a winning selection on Wednesday.
The Leader selection Monalee (8-1) finished second to Penhill (16-1) with Wholestone (13-2) third in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) over 2m 7f at the Cheltenham Festival.
Monalee, trained by Henry De Bromhead and ridden by David Mullins, was tipped as good each-way value.
Native River, backed down from 9-2 to 7-2, ran third behind winner Sizing John and Minella Rocco in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. On The Fringe finished fourth in the 23 runner St. James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase over 3m 2 furlongs and Runfordave – The Leader’s each-way selection in the 24 runners Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle over 2m 4f – finished third at odds of 9-1.
Theinval, The Leader’s each-way selection, ran third at odds of 9-1 in the 2017 Cheltenham Festival finale in front of a sell-out capacity crowd.