Barry Geraghty knows a thing or two about riding top two-mile chasers – and is now starting to believe Defi Du Seuil could be another after his Betfair Tingle Creek Chase success at Sandown.
A week after suffering one of the biggest upsets in his career aboard Buveur D’Air in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle, the multiple Grade One-winning rider played his part in arguably the finish of the National Hunt season so far.
Though never doubting the talent of the Philip Hobbs-trained six-year-old, Geraghty had yet to nail his colours on him being the horse that could give him a record-breaking sixth victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase – until now.
Geraghty said: “It is hard to say he isn’t a Champion Chase horse now, on the back of that. It was a great performance. We will keep looking forward and enjoy the ride.
“We don’t need to decide what do in the future today, we will just enjoy it.”
In what was undoubtedly Defi Du Seuil’s toughest test over fences to date, and he managed to pass it with flying colours, showing his heart for a fight against gallant 2016 winner Un De Sceaux, in a contest which in the eyes of Geraghty went largely to plan.
Geraghty added: “He jumped well, but it was his first time in a Grade One over two miles, so he will have learned from that.
“He winged the first two down the back straight, was tight at the ditch and a little untidy at the water and was better over the Railway fences, so he improved as he went.
“He pinged the last and I was committed, then he just pulled up in the last 50 yards but he was a class act and it’s a great race to win.
“He is not the biggest in the world, but he is real terrier-like. He is a dream to ride.”
Though Geraghty was reluctant to compare Defi Du Seuil to either of his two most notable Queen Mother winners in Moscow Flyer and Sprinter Sacre – both winners of the Tingle Creek – he feels he is getting closer to those two former titans with every race he takes in.
Geraghty said: “He is getting up the ladder, there is no doubt. He is a class act and we love him and always have done.
“Philip has always been mad about him. Richard (Johnson) has ridden him and loved him, I’ve ridden him and loved him. He is a horse that just keeps pleasing. He is heading the right direction, but only time will tell how far he goes.
“He beat Lostintranslation twice last season and he beat Un De Sceaux, who is a standing dish around here.
“He is on a very good level, so let’s hope he can build on it and continue to go on.”