Defi Du Seuil, carrying the first colours of owner John McManus, gave Philip Hobbs his first winner of this year’s Cheltenham Festival when posting an authoritative performance to win the JCB Triumph Hurdle.
The 5-2 favourite travelled strongly into contention before hitting the front between the last two flights and powering clear under Richard Johnson, who was riding his third Triumph Hurdle winner.
It was also a third Triumph success for the trainer, who saddled Made In Japan and Detroit City to win the Grade 1 contest in 2004 and 2006 respectively.
The winning jokey said: "I was a passenger all the way to be honest, he travelled and jumped.
"At Christmas he shocked me how much speed he had and on the better ground some people thought that was a negative.
"He's just improved all year and I can't believe he's the same horse I rode at Ffos Las four or five months ago. All credit to Philip, he's handled him brilliantly all year. He travelled so well and I was just trying not to get there too soon.
"I spoke to Barry (Geraghty), who would have ridden him, and it must be very hard for him watching, but he told me exactly how to ride him.
"It's hard for juveniles to make the jump to the Champion Hurdle, but he's not a typical juvenile as he's not an ex-Flat horse."