Philip Hobbs is having a November Meeting to savour, and 24 hours after rising star Thyme Hill took the G2 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle he was back in the winner's enclosure with dual Festival winner Defi Du Seuil, who justified 11/8 favouritism by a length and a quarter from Politologue (5/2) in a G2 Shloer Chase as thrilling as it was classy.
Defi Du Seuil clearly has a very special place in the Hobbs household, and the trainer admitted to having a frog in his throat as the six-year-old battled up the hill for a twelfth career success from 18 starts.
He said: "I'm delighted he managed to win, as four runners is never ideal for a horse like him, especially when the pace isn't that strong, and there was a lack of room there, though he managed to push out of the gap.
"Although he obviously stays very well he's got loads of pace. And he's very brave isn't he. He does dig deep."
As a Festival winner over two miles and two and a half he has a choice of G1 targets next March - with the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase the obvious options - but Hobbs is reluctant to plan that far ahead.
He said: "I think we'll take it race by race but I should think it will be the Tingle Creek [Sandown, December 7] next. He's proven today he can do well over two miles, and Sandown is stiffer than here and will probably suit him better."
Defi Du Seuil also has an entry in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase, but Hobbs said: "He's entered, so it's not completely written off, but I would think not. We had long discussions about that three-mile entry and one of the reasons we came here is that the two-mile division looks weaker, except perhaps for the Willie Mullins horse Chacun Pour Soi. He'd be the main one probably."
DEFI DELIVERS IN SHLOER
A tilt at the G1 Tingle Creek Chase on Saturday, December 7 at Sandown Park awaits Defi Du Seuil following a pleasing comeback victory today in the two-mile G2 Shloer Chase at Cheltenham Racecourse.
Trained by Philip Hobbs and ridden by Barry Geraghty for owner JP McManus, Defi Du Seuil quickened up smartly in the closing stages to defeat long-time leader Politologue (Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden, 5/2) by a length and a quarter.
Defi Du Seuil, a six-year-old son of Voix Du Nord, captured the G1 JLT Novices' Chase at The Festival in March and connections will either target the G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase or the G1 Ryanair Chase at next year's Festival for which he is a 6/1 and 4/1 shot respectively with Unibet.
The winner is also the 15/8 favourite for the Tingle Creek with Unibet.
Reflecting on today's success, Geraghty, retained rider for JP McManus, said: "I love this fella but this is such a great game, it's great fun. Defi Du Seuil was so brave at the second last - deadly, deadly - and was good at the last as well. Good horses get you up in the morning.
"I didn't have an option at the second last, it was the stride I was on, so he needed to come for me and he was brave. I would say he got a little frightened in the process but he didn't show at the last, when he was good and committed.
"He is brilliant, just a great attitude, and Philip does a brilliant job with him. For a horse who isn't that big, he has a lot of scope and a lot of heart."
POLITOLOGUE PRIMED FOR TINGLE CREEK
Politologue delighted his trainer and jockey by finishing second by a length and a quarter to 11/8 favourite Defi Du Seuil on his first run of the season in the G2 Shloer Chase.
The John Hales-owned eight-year-old, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Harry Cobden, was sent off at odds of 5/2.
Nicholls said: "I'm thrilled with that. He was giving three pounds to the winner and just got a bit outsprinted from the back of the last. He'll go to the Tingle Creek [at Sandown on December 7] and hopefully he'll get a bit of a lead in that. It was a good performance.
"It would be nice if Un De Sceaux comes to Sandown and we get a lead; he goes along in front alright but he just doesn't do a massive amount in front. It was always going to turn into a sprint and he just got outsprinted.
"It was a really good run for his first of the season and should put him spot-on for the Tingle Creek. We'll obviously meet the winner again on three pounds better terms and a stronger run race will suit us better."
Cobden was equally pleased, saying: "I'm delighted with him. It was always going to be hard, we had to make the running and Defi Du Seuil was always going to do him for gears going up the hill. Maybe I could have gone a bit faster but we'd probably have given him a tow into it a little bit more.
"He'll go to the Tingle Creek now; Un De Sceaux and a few others will go a gallop from the front and you'll see a better horse then. But he's run a blinder."
NEAR TEENAGER NED RUNS WITH CREDIT
Defi Du Seiul (11/8f) recorded his sixth win at Cheltenham in today's G2 Shloer Chase, but it was another brave effort by 12-year-old Simply Ned (20/1) in third place.
Runner-up in this race thrice previously (2014, 2016 & 2018), Simply Ned couldn't quite bustle up the big two - dual G1 winner Politologue (5/2) was second - but still ran with great credit for trainer Nicky Richards and owners David & Nicky Robinson, taking third place beaten six and a quarter lengths.
The veteran's jockey Brian Hughes said: "My horse has run a nice race, he was giving the winner 3lb so had no right to beat him or Politologue. He is a 12-year-old now but went around there like a five-year-old.
"I am sure we will go to Leopardstown now and try and win the G1 over Christmas that he has won for the last two seasons."
Trainer Nicky Richards confirmed as much, saying: "That will put him right for Leopardstown now - he's a proper racehorse."
2:25pm Shloer Chase (Grade 2) 1m 7f 199y
1 DEFI DU SEUIL (J P McManus) Philip Hobbs 6-11-03 Barry Geraghty 11/8 Fav
2 Politologue (John Hales) Paul Nicholls 6-11-06 Harry Cobden 5/2
3 Simply Ned (David & Nicky Robinson) Nicky Richards 12-11-06 Brian Hughes 20/1
Time: 4m 10.01
Distances: 1¼, 5
Tote Win: £1.80 Exacta: £4.50