Defi Du Seuil has won both of his starts this season so, on that form, cannot be opposed in the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase over an extended 2m at Ascot on Saturday (15:35).
Philip Hobbs’ stable star is a dual Cheltenham Festival winner who stays further than this trip. That is a plus if further forecast rain hits the Berkshire venue.
Defi Du Seuil is a JP McManus owned seven-year-old who landed consecutive Grade 1 contests over 2m 4f last season with successes in the Scilly Isles at Sandown and then the JLT around Cheltenham.
A winning reappearance at Prestbury Park where this Voix Du Nord gelding landed the Grade 2 Shloer saw him beat Champion Chase runner-up Politologue by 1 1/4 lengths.
Defi Su Seuil then followed-up in the Tingle Creek back at Sandown. He toughed things out there in the mud to hold popular veteran Un De Sceaux by a neck when driven out close home by Barry Geraghty.
The runner-up and fourth horse, home Janika, both re-oppose in the Clarence House Chase.
Defi Du Seuil and Un De Sceaux were officially rated 8lb apart at Sandown, but the assessor has now halved that. It’s clearly the former who has scope for further improvement.
If he confirms the Tingle Creek form, and Defi Du Seuil is fully expected to do so at 4/5 with 888Sport, then a lofty 170 mark for 12-year-old Un De Sceaux needs revising again.
With Hobbs’ stable operating at a 27 per cent strike rate in the last 14 days at the time of writing, his star turn should complete a seasonal hat-trick.
Defi Du Seuil is a worthy favourite with bookmakers and it’s hard to see past him here.
Un De Sceaux can fill Clarence House Chase forecast
As the aforementioned Un De Sceaux has won this three times before, he is still respected – especially if conditions do deteriorate.
That Clarence House Chase hat-trick between 2016 and 2018 is a record.
Trained by Willie Mullins, this beloved Irish raider didn’t have the benefit of a run under his belt like Defi Du Seuil before the Tingle Creek.
Although Un De Sceaux could come on for his reappearance, the presence of Altior in this 12 months ago scared off his bid for a four-timer.
That was because the dual Champion Chase hero had him well-beaten by four lengths in the Tingle Creek. Un De Sceaux has a much smaller margin to try and turnaround with Defi Du Seuil.
He is the highest rated in the five-runner line-up, but his mark is skewed by a Punchestown Festival triumph over dual John Durkan scorer Min.
As Un De Sceaux isn’t getting any younger either, he can again be opposed but rates solid forecast value at 13/8 with Coral.
The remainder are playing for minor honours. Janika was fourth in the Tingle Creek and the Clarence House Chase is set to be run on even deeper ground.
Although he won on heavy going four times when trained in France, Nicky Henderson’s charge fared no better last time out over hurdles when a below par fourth in the Relkeel at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
Janika was sent off favourite for that 2m 4f contest, but had no extra up the famous hill.
There is no reason why Defi Du Seuil or Un De Sceaux should fear this re-opposing rival from Sandown, so he’s taken on at 10/1 with Boylesports here.
Course and distance handicap winner Capeland and Marracudja, meanwhile, are biting off more than they can chew.