Whether Defi du Seuil can win the Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March remains to be seen, but the Philip Hobbs-trained six-year-old certainly put himself in contention for major honours this season, beating Un De Sceaux by a neck in a thrilling Betfair Tingle Creek at Sandown.
There are still pieces of the two-mile jigsaw missing. We have no idea whether Altor, the current champion, will return to the division, and Willie Mullins is waiting until Christmas to unleash Chacun Pour Soi, who beat Defi du Seuil at Punchestown.
But what must stand Defi Du Seuil in good stead for a crack at the two-mile title in March is that in two visits to the festival he has come away with a Triumph Hurdle and a JLT Chase.
On Saturday, in a very fast run race given the conditions, he jumped past the 11-year-old 2016 winner of this race Un de Sceaux at the last and looked set for a comfortable victory. But 100 yards out he began to tread water under Barry Geraghty and Un De Sceaux scented a second chance as Waiting Patiently also stormed up the outside.
“He just pulled up in the last 50 yards,” said Geraghty, who made clear his views about his future. “But he’s a class act. He’s not the biggest but he’s a real terrier. Nothing’s been discussed, but he’s just won a Grade One over two miles.”