Five Things We Learned: Defi shines in Tingle Creek

Defi Du Seuil is on track for the Champion Chase at Cheltenham after Sandown success
Defi Du Seuil is on track for the Champion Chase at Cheltenham after Sandown success

Defi Du Seuil stars in another thrilling Tingle Creek

The Tingle Creek Chase has long been considered one of the most exciting races of the season, with superstar names littered across one of the most impressive roll of honours in the sport. The sight of the fastest two-mile chasers in training flying over the Esher fences is second to none, and we were once again served up a classic on Saturday, as Defi Du Seuil got the better of Un De Sceaux in a duel that will live long in the memory.

It was a race that had everything, with the new kid on the block taking on the old warrior up the run-in, with the youngster just getting the better of the argument. Un De Sceaux confirmed himself as a legend as he went toe-to-toe with a horse five years his junior, only to lose by a neck against a horse in Defi Du Sueil who appears to be improving with each run. The six-year-old is already a two-time Cheltenham Festival winner thanks to his Triumph Hurdle and JLT Novices' Chase successes and attention will now turn to his next Prestbury Park target.

Equally effective at two-and-a-half miles, the JP McManus trained horse also clearly has the speed to lay up with some of the fastest horses in training, and connections will now rightly be tempted with a tilt at the Queen Mother Champion Chase in the spring.

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Willie Mullins Champion Chase contender shines again

Most of the talk surrounding the Champion Chase has been about Altior, Chacun Pour Soi or even Defi Du Seuil as we have already mentioned, but Cilaos Emery is one horse that has flown slightly under the radar.

The Willie Mullins-trained star was having just his third start over fences in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork on Sunday, but once again impressed as he dispatched of Ballyoisin with noticeable ease. The seven-year-old can certainly tidy up his jumping, but there is no doubt that he has an incredible engine as he proved in handing his 169-rated opponent a fair beating on the day.

There is no doubt he will need plenty more to feature at Cheltenham given his inexperience, but the class is there for Cilaos Emery to take extremely high order this winter and there is no doubt he is a genuine Queen Mother player in March.

Cheek-pieces to lead Walk In The Mill to National glory?

Some horses seem to take to the Grand National fences, and some don't.

Walk In The Mill is certainly in the "some do" category as he confirmed in no uncertain terms on Saturday with a second successive win in the Becher Chase at Aintree. The Robert Walford-trained animal was an easy winner of the National trial last year and he once again proved his love for the Liverpool venue with an excellent round of jumping.

First time cheek-pieces appeared to sharpen up a horse who can be a touch lazy at times, and we can now expect the nine-year-old to sport the same headgear in the big race in April. A fourth-placed finish in the National last season proved his appetite for the stamina-sapping test, and although he will have a huge task on his hooves to come out on top against the classy Tiger Roll, there is no reason to believe that he can't be one of the closest challengers based on this latest eye-catching win.

Min on track to end his Cheltenham Festival misery

Min has perhaps been the unluckiest horse in training over the last few years, with the signt of Altior enough to give his connections nightmares.

The Rich Ricci-owned horse has come second to the Nicky Henderson in-mate in a Supreme Novices' Hurdle and a Champion Chase, but he remains a top-class animal in his own right at the age of eight, and you get the feeling his big day in the sun could be just around the corner. The popular chaser won the John Durkan Memorial Chase for the second-year-in-a-row on Sunday afternoon to once again confirm himself as an excellent horse with any lingering stamina doubts now firmly in the past.

Once thought to be too keen to be seen to best impact beyond two miles, Min showed plenty of battling qualities at Punchestown on Sunday, and all roads will surely now lead to the Ryanair Chase in the spring. The thought of seeing the backside of Altior at Prestbury Park is always a worry for Min and his supporters, but he might finally get the chance to avoid his great nemesis in 2020 - which means he should be taken extremely seriously.

Racing TV continues to suffer teething problems

The worries about the ability of RacingTV to cover Irish racing in any sort of depth started the moment the new deal was announced, and unfortunately it came to a head on Sunday afternoon.

Fans of the sport on both sides of the Irish Sea were forced to watch the John Durkan Memorial Chase and the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon via a split-screen thanks to a delay at Punchestown, which meant both feature contests clashed. It was a hugely unsatisfactory experience for those watching from their sofas, with neither race covered properly, and in particular it was the John Durkan that suffered in terms of a lack of coverage. Worries that the Irish racing would be seen as a second class citizen on Racing TV have constantly been aired by a number of leading figures since the move from At The Races to RTV was announced, and that pressure will now surely be cranked up a notch.

Boxing Day/St Stephen's Day will certainly come under the spotlight this season, with several meetings in the UK and Ireland for the channel to air, and technical problems have also been reported with the online service. It will be impossible for any race to be covered in any sort of depth without the addition of a red button service, which doesn't appear to be forthcoming.

Horse Racing Ireland came under fire for the decision to move Irish Racing to RacingTV and you get the feeling that this issue is only just beginning. What price that Irish Racing is on Sky Sports before the end of 2020?

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