Philip Hobbs is looking to see Defi Du Seuil put his Queen Mother Champion Chase disappointment behind him when he bids for back-to-back wins in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham on Sunday.
A prolific Grade One winner over hurdles and fences, Hobbs remains at a loss to explain is below-par run in March.
With both Altior and Chacun Pour Soi late absentees, Defi Du Seuil was sent off the 2-5 favourite for the two-mile blue riband, but could only finish fourth behind Politologue.
Hobbs said: “Defi is in good form and everything has gone well up to now. I’m very happy with him.
“He was maybe a bit flat before the Champion Chase and Barry (Geraghty) felt during the race he didn’t run with his usual zest and he found nothing at all.
“There was nothing wrong with him in any way afterwards and we’ve not found any real reason for it.
“He is in good form now so hopefully we can put that (Queen Mother run) behind us. The penalty he has does give the others a bit more of an advantage, but hopefully he can cope with it.
“We will just take it race by race with him as it depends how he runs as to what we do next regarding the trip. As he has got a bit older he has got a bit stronger, but he is very enthusiastic – as he always is – and he seems in good form.”
Put The Kettle On won the Arkle Trial at this meeting 12 months ago and was then put away until March, when she returned to land the Arkle itself.
Her trainer Henry de Bromhead feels there is every reason to take advantage of her apparent love of the Cotswolds.
When asked if getting further track experience was behind the decision to run, De Bromhead said: “It’s nearly as much that she loves the place so much.
“She’s really progressed on her two runs there, so she seems to really enjoy it. It’s as much that as anything, to be honest – that’s probably why.”
Rouge Vif was ultra-impressive for Harry Whittington when winning a handicap on his reappearance, and now goes up in class.
Whittington said: “This is a horse that ever since we’ve jumped a fence with him, he has just been electric.
“There have been so many question marks about the undulations of Cheltenham, but he put that to bed in his run three weeks ago.
“We had the Haldon Gold Cup as our Plan A, but we thought we’d put the Cheltenham entry in, just to look at it. We then thought we’d be mad not to run because of the good ground and because we wanted to learn about the track anyway.”
Duc Des Genievres has his first run for Paul Nicholls having left Willie Mullins, for whom he won the 2019 Arkle, while another Grade One winner in the field is Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Riders Onthe Storm – but he is dropping in trip.
“I’m very interested in trying him at this two-mile trip seeing as there aren’t a great deal of two-and-a-half-mile races around for him at the moment,” Twiston-Davies told William Hill.
“We can always go back to two-and-a-half after Sunday if things don’t work out, but I’m keen to see exactly what we’ve got.
“He’s very quick, proved he can mix it with the best last season and is as fit as anything we’ve sent out first time so far this season.”
Brian Ellison’s Forest Bihan, having his first run since winning the Old Roan at Aintree over a year ago, completes the field.
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