Five things we learned: Defi and Darby sparkle at Ascot

Defi Du Seuil is now the Champion Chase favourite after Ascot romp.
Defi Du Seuil is now the Champion Chase favourite after Ascot romp.

It was an action-packed weekend of National Hunt racing, where reputations were enhanced and potential Cheltenham Festival candidates emerged. Our man Steve Chambers looks back at all the action and picks out five talking points from the last few days...

Dazzling Defi should be shorter than he is for the Champion Chase

There's a new king of the two-mile chasing division, and the baton held so impressively by Altior in recent seasons should be passed across to an emerging, often unheralded successor in Defi Du Seuil, who producing a barnstorming performance to win the Clarence House Chase at Ascot.

The Grade 1 feature on Saturday was dubbed as a match between the Philip Hobbs-trained seven-year-old and three-times Clarence House winner Un De Sceaux, but it turned into a relative procession by Defi Du Seuil, who scooted clear under a confident Barry Geraghty to win by two-and-three-quarter lengths.

Narrowly beaten in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park earlier in the season by Defi Du Seuil, Un De Sceaux was well-backed in the lead-up to the race, but the Willie Mullins-trained 12-year-old couldn't land a glove on his market rival, and having set the early fractions the Closutton inmate was passed with real ease, and Geraghty's winner produced a spectacular leap at the last fence to show there was more petrol there if needed, should Mullins' charge fight back.

Unsurprisingly, Defi Du Seuil was slashed in the 2020 Queen Mother Champion Chase betting, but while he usurped Altior into favouritism, it's rather eye-popping that the JP McManus-owned raider isn't anywhere near odds-on favouritism for the two-mile Championship race in March.

A two-time Cheltenham Festival winner (2017 Triumph Hurdle, 2019 JLT Novices' Chase), Defi Du Seuil has shown this season that he is the class act in the division. It's far from certain where reigning Champion Chase hero Altior will be seen next having bypassed the Clarence House last weekend, and, having lost his unbeaten record to Cyrname at Ascot earlier in the season, the jury is still out on whether the fire is still burning at its brightest. Meanwhile, the imponderables continue with the Mullins pair of Chacun Pour Soi and Douvan , who still need to show form that warrants their spot in Grade 1 company again this season.

Available at around the 2/1 mark for the Champion Chase, Defi Du Seuil should be a lot shorter, and it would be no shock to see him sent off an odds-on jolly on the day of the race on March 11.

Murphy should take a chance and send Darby to the Champion Hurdle

Olly Murphy reflected on Thomas Darby's impressive weight-carrying victory at Ascot by suggesting that seven-year-old would not head to the Cheltenham Festival in a couple of months, and pencilled a potential tilt at the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell before going on to contest the Aintree Hurdle at the Grand National meeting.

Entered for the Champion Hurdle, Thomas Darby - who returned to the hurdling sphere after a disappointing brace of runs over fences - is a 33/1 shot for the Tuesday feature, and that should definitely be his next port of call.

A four-and-a-half length second to Klassical Dream in last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle, Thomas Darby's performance at the weekend means that the significant rise in the handicap he should receive will mean a test like the County Hurdle is out of the question.

However, the Champion Hurdle is a race full of unknowns, with very few horses showing the form needed to be classed as a lively contender in a standard renewal of the race. Pentland Hills - who is the second favourite for the race - was beaten again at the weekend in the Champion Hurdle Trial by Ballyandy, so while Murphy has expressed his will to keep Thomas Darby in the race at this stage, he should put all his eggs in a Cheltenham Festival-shaped basket and unleash his exciting hurdler at the race on March 10.

Twiston-Davies unearths another Betfair Hurdle candidate

With three Betfair Hurdle wins in the last six years, Nigel Twiston-Davies has become the man to watch in the Newbury handicap conundrum, and the Naunton handler could've unearthed another potential challenger for that valuable race next month, as Stolen Silver rocketed home to win the Rossington Main Novices' Hurdle at Haydock Park at the weekend.

The 9/2 shot reeled in Edwardstone in the shadow of the post in the Grade 2 event, and was instantly slashed into as short as 8/1 from 20s for the Betfair Hurdle. Splash Of Ginge (2014), Ballyandy (2017) and Al Dancer (2019) have all handed Twiston-Davies victory in the Betfair Hurdle in recent seasons, and Stolen Silver is another exciting, improving novice hurdler that could shape into a real candidate for that Newbury prize on February 8.

Available at 25/1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, Stolen Silver may lack the class needed to win the Cheltenham Festival curtain-raiser, but Twiston-Davies has already swayed in the way of a crack at Newbury in a few weeks, and there's no reason why he can't claim the prize for a fourth time in seven years.

Goshen still has things to improve on before Triumph tilt

Gary Moore's Goshen eased to an 11-length victory in Ascot's opening race on Saturday afternoon, but the four-year-old - who is three from three over hurdles - still has things to learn over timber if he is to be a leading candidate for the Triumph Hurdle.

Visually impressive in terms of his win at the weekend, Goshen, who is an 8/1 chance for the Triumph, continued to show he possesses a magnificent engine, but his jumping continued to leave question marks hanging over it. Yes, you could argue Jamie Moore merely had to pop over the final couple of hurdles when comfortably clear of his rivals, but while his fiddly leaps were OK at the weekend, it will be different story when he lines up in the Triumph.

A fierce gallop from the outset, the Triumph is the biggest test in a young horse's life, as a multitude of top notch juveniles bid for Cheltenham Festival glory, and having produced some fine efforts right-handed, Goshen will need to show he can deliver on the left-handed undulations of Prestbury Park. There's no doubting his ability, and Moore is sure to continue to improve his jumping style over hurdles in the coming weeks, but Saturday's win showed more experience is needed and Goshen may just find it tough in the hustle and bustle of a Triumph Hurdle to produce his best.

Four-Day ban dents Johnson's Championship hopes

Heading into Monday's racing, Richard Johnson and Brian Hughes are both sitting on 111 winners for the season in one of the most hotly-contested races to be crowned National Hunt Champion Jockey we've seen for decades.

However, Johnson was hit with a four-day ban following his winning ride on the aforementioned Thomas Darby at Ascot, and it will see the current champion jockey out of action from February 2 to February 5.

Johnson's time on the sidelines - where he will miss the second day of the Dublin Racing Festival (he would most likely ride at Taunton that day anyway) - will give Hughes the chance to try and grab a march on the veteran pilot, Johnson, who is bidding to win the accolade for the fifth year in a row.

The bookmakers generally still make Johnson a slight favourite in the betting, but if Hughes can capitalise on Johnson's absence over those four days then it's a sideshow to the season that could go all the way to the wire, with both jockeys sure to fight until the end to be crowned champion.

2020 Champion Hurdle Odds
Advert Disclaimer is a free online resource which endeavour to provide helpful and useful content and odds comparison to its visitors. Please be advised that accepts affiliate commission from the companies appearing on the site, and agreed commission levels impact the location and order in which the companies (and/or their products) are presented on the website. Any ratings that appear on this site is determined by our subjective opinion of the brand but also based on market share and reputation, each brand's conversion rates, commission paid to us and general consumer interest. Company listings on this page don't imply our endorsement. We do not feature all providers on the market. Except as expressly set forth in our terms and conditions, all statements and warranties regarding the information presented on this page are disclaimed. The information, including odds, which appear on this site is subject to change at any time.
Bet £10 Get £20 + £10 Casino Bonus
#AD New UK customers (Excluding NI) only. Mobile Exclusive. £30 in FREE Bets (FB) as £20 in sports bets & a £10 casino bonus (CB). Min Deposit £10. Min stake £10. Min odds Evs. FB applied on 1st settlement of any qualifying bet. FB 7-day expiry. 1 FB offer per customer, household & IP address only. Account & Payment restrictions. 14 days to accept £10 CB, then active for 3 days. CB 5x wagering & max redeemable £100. Game restrictions apply. Cashed out/Free Bets won’t apply. 30 days to qualify. 18+ T&Cs apply.
Money Back As A Bonus Up To £40 If Your First Racing Bet Loses + £10 casino
AD 18+ New customers only. Min deposit £10. Money back as bonus if first bet loses. Wagering requirements: sportsbook 3x at min. odds of 1.40 (2/5), casino 50x. Unless forfeited the sportsbook bonus must be wagered before using the casino bonus. Bonus expires 7 days after opt-in. No deposit required for NI customers. Call 08081699314 to claim. Full T&Cs apply.
Bet £10 get £30 in Free Bets
#AD T&Cs apply. New customers, Deposit & Place a Bet within 7 days, and settle a £10 minimum bet at odds of 4/5 (1.8) or greater, to be credited with 3x £10 free bets: 1 x £10 Horse racing, 1 x £10 Free Bet Builder and 1 x £10 Football. Stake not returned. Opt-in required. 18+
Welcome Offer
#AD New Customers only. Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets. Sign up, deposit between £5 and £10 to your account and bet365 will give you three times that value in Free Bets when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply.
Bet £20 & Get it Back As CASH If It Loses
#AD New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any market at odds of min 2.0 (EVS) and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £20. Only deposits made using cards will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.. Please Gamble Responsibly.
Bet £5 Get £20 In Free Bets
#AD New Customer offer. Place a min £5 bet on the Sportsbook on odds of min 1/2 (1.5), get £20 in Free Bets. Rewards valid for 30 days. SMS verification required. Only deposits via cards will qualify. T&Cs apply. Please Gamble Responsibly
Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Bets
#AD 18+. Play Safe. From 00:01 on 18.10.2022. £30 bonus, credited as 3x £10 bets. New customers only. Minimum £10 stake on odds of 1/2 (1.5) or greater on sportsbook (excluding Virtual markets). Further terms apply.
Bet £10 Get £40 In Bonuses
#AD 18+ New customers only. Opt in and place a £10 bet on Horse Racing at odds of 2.00+ within 7 days of opening a new account; excludes cashed out bets. Receive 3x £10 Horse Racing Free Bets, valid on set events only at odds 2.00+. Plus, a £10 Slot Bonus, selected games, wager 20x to withdraw a max of £250. Bonuses expire in 7 days. Card payments only. T&Cs Apply. Please Gamble Responsibly.
Bet £10 Get £40 in Bonuses
#AD New 18+ UK customers only. Register with promo code WELCOME40, deposit and place 1st bet of £10+ on Sports (cumulative Evens+) within 7 days of registration. First bet must be on Sports. £30 in Free Bets and £10 in Free Spins (50x20p) credited in 10 hours of bet settlement. Free Bet stakes not included in any returns. Bonuses expire in 7 days. Payment restrictions apply. SMS verification and/or Proof of I.D and address may be required. Full T&Cs apply.
150% Casino Bonus (Up To £150)
#AD 18+  New casino accounts only. Min. £10 deposit, debit card only. Up to 50x wagering, game contributions vary, max. stake applies, 7-day expiry. Full T&Cs apply. 32Red match your first deposit amount up to £150, e.g. Deposit £100, 32Red will match up to 150% = Bonus of £150. Gamble responsibly.
Bet £10 Get £20 In Free Bets
#AD. New members. £10 min deposit & bet on sportsbook, placed & settled at 1.5 min odds within 14 days of sign-up. Win part of each-way bets only. 2 non-withdrawable £10 Free Bet Tokens: Valid for 7 days from acceptance (ex. each-way & multiple bets), stakes not returned. **Max Free Bet £10. Free Bet: non-withdrawable, use in 7 days on sportsbook only. Stake not returned. Full T&C's apply. Bet Responsibly. 18+
Bet £10 get £20 in Free Bets
#AD 18+ New members only. £10 min deposit & bet on sportsbook, placed & settled at 1.5 min odds within 14 days of sign-up. Win part of E/W bets. 2 non-withdrawable £10 Free Bet Tokens: accept in 7 days, valid for 7 days from crediting (ex. E/Ws & Multiples), stakes not returned. T&Cs apply,
Double The Odds On Any UK Horse Race!
#AD 18+ New Grosvenor registrations only, Bet must be placed using real money in combination with the Odds Boost Token, Offer applies to Sport bets only. Max stake £10. Each way bets are a max of £5 each way (£10 total). Odds Boost token expires after 60 days. T&Cs apply.
£30 Matched Free Bet if Your First Acca Loses + 50 Bonus Spins
#AD 18+ New UK customers only. £5 Min Deposit, max free bet: £30. 1st bet on a Football or Horse Racing multiple with 3+ selections. Overall odds: 3.00 (2/1) or higher. Free Bets upon settlement of the qualifying bet. Offer valid for 7 days of account registration. 50 Bonus Spins credited on placement of qualifying Acca bet.50x bonus wagering applies & weighting requirements, Bonus spins available on selected games & expires 7 days. Debit card deposits only (excl. apply). Full T&Cs apply
Bet £10, Get £30 in Free Bets
#AD 18+, New customers only. Opt in, bet £10 on any sports (odds 2.00+) in 7 days. No cash out. Get 4x£5 sports free bets for set markets (odds 2.00+), expires in 7 days. Offer valid from 10:00 UK time on 16/01/2023. Card payments only. T&Cs Apply. | Please Gamble Responsibly
Bet £25 Get £50 In Bonuses
#AD Place a qualifying £25 fixed odds bet at odds of 1/2 or greater and get £50 in bonuses 5 x £5 free fixed odds bets, 4 x free £5 spread bets + 50 free spins on Starburst. Qualifying bet cannot be placed in-play or cashed out early. T&Cs Apply. 18+
Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Bets (APP Only)
#AD New UK, IE & Malta customers only. Min £10/€10 first deposit using a Debit Card. Place a bet of £10 at min odds of 1.5 and get £10. A further £10 credited after 7 days and a further £10 credited after 14 days. 18+., T&Cs apply.
£35 Free Bet + 10 Free Spins
#AD 18+ If your account has Sportsbook losses at the end of first day's betting, get 50% refund of your losses as a Free Bet up to £35 (min 3 bets) Plus 10 Free Spins. Even if account is up, guaranteed a £5 Free Bet Plus 10 Free Spins provided you place at least 1 bet of £10 or greater at the minimum odds. T&Cs apply | New UK Customers Only |
50% Up To £50 Welcome Bonus
#AD 18+; New bettors get 50% of deposit up to £50; Once per household; Min deposit £15 (no Skrill/Neteller); Wager a total of 8 times deposit + bonus, with max qualifying bet stake equal to your initial bonus amount; Bonus expires after 60 days; Min odds of 4/5 on singles, or 2/5 per leg for acca; Some bet types excluded; See full terms.
100% Profit Boost up to £100 (Mobile Only)
#AD New UK customers only. Claim by placing a min deposit £10 via "My Offers" page within 30 days. Skrill/Neteller deposits excluded. 7 days to stake max £10 in-play. Max. extra winnings £100.T&C's apply, 18+
Latest racing results
1stStyle Of Life
2ndIsland Native
1stSomeone's Wish
2ndCaptain St Lucifer
3rdCasa Luna
1stChinese Whisperer
3rdMysterious Maestro
View All Today's Results