Former champion jockey Richard Johnson hailed seven-times Grade One winner Defi Du Seuil as “one of the best” he has ridden, after the nine-year-old was retired by owner JP McManus.
The Philip Hobbs-trained nine-year-old has struggled since winning the last of his top-level races in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot in January 2020.
He had failed to shine in two races since a wind operation in the summer and McManus took the decision to retire him.
Johnson, who partnered Defi Du Seuil to two of his Grade One successes, including the Triumph Hurdle in 2017, said: “He has been an amazing racehorse and even though he is not an old horse, he has achieved so much.
“He has given Philip, Mr McManus and his family, myself and the likes of Barry Geraghty some great times.
“It is obviously sad to see him not be able to produce his best over the last 18 months, but to me it is nice that he can retire fit and well.
“It is obviously frustrating they can’t pinpoint why he is not performing, but at the same time he doesn’t owe anybody anything and at the same time the nice thing is that JP and his team will guarantee him a very happy retirement and we still have a lot of fond memories on him.”
The son of Voix Du Nord was a smart juvenile hurdler, winning a trio of Grade One races and Chepstow, Cheltenham and Aintree.
Despite a lacklustre second season over hurdles, he proved a revelation over fences thereafter and twice defeated Lostintranslation, taking the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown before returning to Cheltenham to secure a second Festival success, this time in the JLT Novices’ Chase in 2019.
He also landed the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, beating Un De Sceaux in an epic renewal, and was second to Chacun Pour Soi at the Punchestown Festival.
Johnson added: “No question he will be missed in the yard. Those horses are always very hard to replace. He deserves a good retirement and he has given us all a great time.
“He was fantastic – one of the best I’ve ridden. I don’t think I’ve ever travelled so well as he did in the Triumph Hurdle.
“He travelled like an old pro and jumped brilliantly. He was just a great horse to have anything to do with. He took to fences so well, it is a shame that perhaps his career wasn’t able to carry on for a little bit longer, but he has achieved more than most horse will ever achieve.”
Defi Du Seuil bows out having won 14 of his 24 starts under rules, earning over £620,000 in prize money.