Last season’s Arkle winner Put The Kettle On maintained her unbeaten record at Cheltenham when collaring Duc Des Genievres in the Shloer Chase.
Normally a front-runner, Put The Kettle On’s rider Aidan Coleman was content to let Duc Des Genievres set a brisk early pace on his first run for Paul Nicholls, but Put The Kettle On and Defi Du Seuil closed in coming down the hill.
Harry Cobden kicked again on Duc De Genievres and looked sure to hold on, but Henry de Bromhead’s mare stuck to her task gamely and the 7-4 chance ended up winning going away by a length and a quarter.
The winner was given a 12-1 quote by Coral for the Champion Chase in March.
Odds-on favourite Defi Du Seuil was pulled up early in the straight, having been behind in the early stages following a mistake at the first, before finding little for pressure at the finish.
Coleman said: “She has done very well. She has got a massive heart this filly as she hated the ground. She was never happy the whole way.
“It was a testament to her ability and her attitude as it was a hard race for her. Since November last year, she has only run once, so she might be a touch rusty. When I got on top, I won well.
“If you look at the form of the Arkle Trial (that Put The Kettle On won last year) it doesn’t stand up, but if you look at the Arkle, it is probably strong form.
“She must be in a good place to win if after two fences I’m not happy, as it is a long way to go in a championship race. The previous Arkle winner was second and everyone else was in another parish, so fair play to her.
“Yes, she has three from three here, but I think that is coincidence – if they were run anywhere else she would have won. She has won on all sorts of tracks, but if you are going to like a course, and especially be a two-miler, the Old Course at Cheltenham is the place to be, isn’t it?
“I think she can (take the step up to be a Queen Mother horse). Whether that means winning or being competitive, time will tell.
“She is value for more today, considering the feel I got all the way round. She will be there in the money, whether she is first or fourth you don’t know. She is a credit to connections.”
Nicholls said of the second: “I was a bit nervous about the ground. I think on better ground he would finish better.
“A flatter track would suit him better, but I wasn’t expecting that as I didn’t know what to expect. I would say watching that, slightly better ground, he would bounce off it. It was an almighty run.”
Philip Hobbs said of Defi Du Seuil: “He just got very tired very quickly after jumping the second last and Dickie (Richard Johnson) just thought there was no point after that jumping the last, but he seems to be OK after the race.”
Johnson added: “Defi du Seuil was going well. However, he was very tired jumping the second last. I just thought it was the right thing to do to pull him up after that, but he does seem to be fine after the race.”