THE opening race on the third day of the Festival went to Defi Du Seuil for trainer Philip Hobbs, who got the better of old rival Lostintranslation.
Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation came out on top when the pair crossed swords in the Dipper Novices’ Chase over this course and distance on New Year’s Day, but Defi Du Seuil turned the tables at Sandown last month.
Defi Du Seuil was the narrow favourite at 3/1 to confirm his superiority in the first race on day three of the Festival, and ultimately did so comfortably in the hands of Barry Geraghty.
Robbie Power appeared keen to make it a test of stamina from the outset on Lostintranslation, forcing the pace from a long way out.
However, Defi Du Seuil was travelling the better at the top of the home straight and following a thrilling battle on the run-in, it was the J. P. McManus-owned six-year-old who won the argument by two and a quarter lengths – his second Festival success having won the Triumph Hurdle in 2017.
An emotional Hobbs said: "He's amazing. He's very, very tough and his jumping is fantastic. Sometimes these smaller horses are better at the whole thing because they are more athletic.
"He only ran twice last season, but the horses weren't 100% healthy and if they are not, they are not going to win.
"He's been our main flagship now for a while. He jumped beautifully and had a great run all the way round - it couldn't have gone better. It's the third time in the last three runs that we have met Lostintranslation.
Geraghty, recording his 37th victory at the Festival in total and first this year, is the second most successful rider in the meeting's history.
He said: "Defi Du Seuil is a very good horse and Philip has a done a great job."
"They are two really good horses. Lostintranslation done me here a few months ago, then we got him back at Sandown, and the form has stood again today.
"I got in tight at the second last so I was banking on a big one at the last and he came up trumps.
Mengli Khan finished third under Jack Kennedy for trainer Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud.