Favourite Defi Du Seuil to sidestep Greatwood Hurdle for Ascot mission
Favourite Defi Du Seuil will miss Sunday's Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham with connections rerouting the four-year-old to Ascot on Saturday week.
Trained by Philip Hobbs for owner JP McManus, Defi Du Seuil was the 5-1 market leader for the Greatwood Hurdle and had been reported on course for Cheltenham by Frank Berry, racing manager to McManus, on Monday.
However, the eagerly anticipated reappearance of Defi Du Seuil, who captured three Grade 1s during a brilliant juvenile season, including the Triumph Hurdle, has been put back six days.
Hobbs said on Tuesday: "In discussing the situation with connections, it has been decided that the hurdle at Ascot will be a more favourable first run of the season.
"For a relatively young horse like him, Ascot will be better than the hurly-burly of the Greatwood."
In the absence of Defi Du Seuil, Jenkins, who halved in price to 6-1 (from 12) for the Greatwood Hurdle on Monday, is the new favourite at 4-1.
That price could harden further as the week progresses, with one of his main rivals, London Prize, no certainty to line up.
Last weekend's Elite Hurdle winner is a general 10-1 chance to try and claim a brace of big prizes in just over a week, but trainer Ian Williams is minded to wait until Newbury's Ladbrokes Trophy meeting with the six-year-old.
He said on Tuesday: "It's a conversation I'll have with his owner Margaret Forsyth if we feel he's well enough to run at the weekend.
"I can't say it's not tempting because it really is. But it has to be the right thing to do for the horse and his owner."
Williams reported London Prize, who was runner-up in the Cesarewitch before his Elite Hurdle win, to be in fine form and added: "He was squealing and bucking this morning when having his light canter so I think he'd like to do something over the weekend, but I'm not convinced in my own mind it's the right thing to do."
Even if London Prize does not run, Williams could still claim another big jumps prize as Ballyalton is set for the BetVictor Gold Cup on Saturday.
A winner at last year's Cheltenham Festival in the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase, the ten-year-old has had his career disrupted by injury but he has a fine record at Cheltenham having also finished runner-up to Faugheen in the Neptune Novices' Hurdle in 2014.
“He’s in great form. Tom [O'Brien] schooled him this morning and he jumped very nicely for him," Williams added. "We’ve been very happy with his build-up and he comes into the race in good form."
Ballyalton is a general 12-1 shot for the BetVictor Gold Cup and Williams added: "He comes into the race with limited chasing experience against some of his rivals and, while he has always performed well around Cheltenham and enjoys the track, he does have that limited experience over fences.
"We’re looking forward to it but it’s a big ask."
The ground at Cheltenham was on Tuesday described as good to soft, while the cross-country course is good. Although a few showers are forecast a mainly dry week is expected.