Defi Du Seuil goes novice chasing to lead the charge for resurgent Hobbs
Peter Thomas gets the news on a team back in the pink after a slow year
Last season wasn’t plain sailing at Sandhill Stables, with health issues contributing to the lowest seasonal total in many years, but Philip Hobbs, as befits his many years of experience, remains unperturbed by the blip and quietly optimistic for the future.
“We had 60-odd winners but for us it was a little bit slow, because a lot of our horses were affected by a bug that we couldn’t really get rid of,” he explains.
“It’s frustrating because you never know quite what you’re dealing with. It’s the same as you or me having a cold – there are so many different viruses around that it’s impossible to say what it is you’ve got, so you just have to give them antibiotics and plenty of time. They’re good and healthy again now though, and we’re looking forward to a good season.
“Defi Du Seuil was among those affected and obviously it was a big disappointment for him to be beaten on his only two starts, but he’s back in good nick again and we’re looking forward to an exciting novice chase campaign for him.
“We’ve had a good summer with very few horses on the go. Leapaway and Imperial Presence both stepped up and won us plenty of races and plenty of prize-money to keep us ticking over, which is always a great help around the yard.
“Apart from the obvious stars, we’ve got nothing that has proved themselves to be very good but plenty with the potential to be very good and lots of youngsters who’ll be capable of winning races.
I’d like to think it’s in the younger division that our strengths lie because I can see plenty of untapped talent out there.”
This Stable tour was provided by our Racing Parter – The Racing Post
Philip Hobbs's list of Runners
Awake At Midnight
Racing Post Rating: 121 (hurdles); Official BHA rating: 121
Info: Six-year-old gelding Midnight Legend (sire) - Wakeful (dam) - Mrs Charles Lloyd-Baker (Owner)
Won well at Worcester last time after being placed several times last season. He's the type to make a chaser sooner rather than later and I'd expect him to improve, although he wouldn't want the ground too firm.
RPR 147c OR 141c
Info: 7g Enrique - Orphee De Vonnas
Won last year's Bobby Renton at Wetherby. He wouldn't want very soft ground but 2m4f is his trip and he'll go hunter chasing for his owner to ride as soon as the season starts. He may go up to 3m at some stage.
RPR 112h OR 116h
Info: 5g Flemensfirth - Star Shuil Mrs Joanna Peppiatt
Ran some decent races last season, seems to be maturing now and I hope he'd improve this year over 2m4f in novice hurdles.
RPR 115h OR 114h
Info: 6g Getaway - Fille de Robin Mrs B Hitchcock
Placed last season over hurdles and looks as though he should do better over fences, but he may run in a handicap hurdle first because I think he could win one over 2m4f.
Beau Du Brizais
RPR 127c OR 124c
Info: 6g Kapgarde - Belle Du Brizais Mrs R J Skan
Ran a good race at Ludlow last time and has been coping with fast ground very well, although I don't think he needs it. He'll go to Exeter today and should give a good account.
RPR 119h OR 112h
Info: 6g Milan - Isis Du Berlais Brocade Racing
Lost his confidence over fences when he slipped very badly going to the first in his novice chase debut at Fontwell. He was an eight-length winner of a handicap hurdle on good ground at Worcester this month, but chasing will be his job, he's very well in himself and his confidence seems to have come back. He probably doesn't want it very soft but is on the up.
RPR 119h OR 118h
Info: 6g King’s Theatre - Alderbrook Girl The Juwireya Partnership
Pleased me on his reappearance in a handicap hurdle at Bangor but will go chasing very soon. I may give him one more run over hurdles and he'd go on any ground.
RPR 106b OR -
Info: 4f Flemensfirth - Lunar Path Mrs Caren Walsh and Mrs Kathleen Quinn
A nice mare who won well first time at Taunton, ran a good race in the Grade 2 bumper at Aintree, then showed up well on her seasonal reappearance at Carlisle, all with plenty of give in the ground. She ran extremely well the last day, going on strongly at the finish, and I'd say she'll definitely want 2m4f when she goes over hurdles, but she may go for a Listed mares' bumper at Cheltenham on November 17 in the meantime. She has a really good attitude and looks a progressive type for mares' races.
RPR 137c OR 132c
Info: 6g Presenting - Millesimee David Maxwell Racing
A handicap chaser who will go hunter chasing eventually. He copes well with soft ground but doesn't have to have it. I'd say 2m4f is his trip at the moment.
Come On Charlie
RPR 103h OR 106h
Info: 6g Anzillero - End Of Spring Martin St Quinton
Won well at Stratford over 2m2f last time and will run in another handicap hurdle before going chasing fairly soon. I'd think he'll want 2m4f at least and will cope with soft ground as the winter goes on.
RPR 126h OR 123h
Info: 5g Stowaway - Rosies All The Way Miss I D Du Pre
Form: 5372 -1
Did it nicely last week at Huntingdon and looked to be an improved performer. He's very much a potential chaser but will probably stay over hurdles for this campaign. He can be a bit keen and 2m4f is probably his trip for now.
RPR 123b OR -
Info: 5g Arcadio - Ballcrina Girl Andy Tilley
Looked an exciting horse when scoring at Newton Abbot and Cheltenham on his first two runs but was disappointing in the Champion Bumper and again on his first hurdling effort, over 2m1f at Newton Abbot this month. He seemed fine afterwards and in his defence the ground was bad that day and he lost a lot of momentum at the second-last with a poor jump, so he deserves another chance.
RPR 90 OR -
Info: 5g Mahler - My Kit Let’s Get Ready To Rumble Partnership
Form: 1- (point form)
Won his only point-to-point in Ireland, stays very well and may go straight over hurdles. He's a 3m chasing type and will want at least 2m4f over hurdles.
RPR 101b OR -
Info: 4g Getaway - No Moore Bills Louisville Syndicate Elite
Ran fine in his first bumper at Newton Abbot, even though the ground was awful and the pace wasn't strong enough. Will improve for better conditions and a faster gallop in bumpers, but he'll be a chaser in time.
Defi Du Seuil
RPR 150h OR 157h
Info: 5g Voix Du Nord - Quarvine Du Seuil JP McManus
He's in good nick, will go straight novice chasing this season and would be ready to go fairly soon, but we'll need more rain for that to happen. Only ran twice last year, was disappointing when odds-on for the Coral Hurdle at Ascot, then again in the Irish Champion Hurdle, so it was sensible for him to go home and have the summer off. A lot of our horses were under a cloud last season and there are plenty of reasons why he should improve over fences, so we're very hopeful. He's bright and well.
Info: 5g Mahler - Kit Massini Trevor Hemmings
Form: 1 (point form)
Won a point in Ireland and looks a stayer who will probably start in a 2m4f novice hurdle. He's a big, strong horse with a very good temperament.
Info: 4g Poliglote - Princess Demut JP McManus
Won his only race in France, a hurdle at Auteuil, and will go handicap hurdling to start with, although I have no idea what kind of mark he'll get. We'll file him under 'could be anything'.
RPR 115c OR 117c
Info: 5g Noroit - None De Sivola David Maxwell Racing
Joined us from France in the spring and got off the mark at Fontwell this month over just short of 2m4f. He may improve for going a bit further.
RPR 117h OR -
Info: 5g Coastal Path - Quiphile JP McManus
Came from the Arqana Sale in November 2016, having won over 1m4f on the Flat at Deauville. We had high hopes of him and were a little disappointed when he finished only fourth at odds-on in his novice hurdle at Bangor on his first run for us, but we decided he may have found the track and trip a little on the sharp side. He wasn't at his peak after that so we put him away for the year to retain his novice status for this season, and he pleased us on his reappearance when second over 2m at Uttoxeter. He ran too keen early on, something he hadn't done last season, but he was probably just a little fresh and well and it was a performance that suggested he'll be winning soon.
Duke Des Champs
RPR 142h OR 139h
Info: 8g Robin Des Champs - Ballycowan Lady Diana Whateley and Tim Syder
Ran two good races in handicap chases at Newbury last year but is still a novice. He'll want some rain before he runs but will be out in the autumn on soft going over 3m plus.
Info: 4g Ask - Merrylas Mrs Catherine Penny
Showed a lot of promise last season and won his bumper well at Fontwell this month. He'll go to Exeter today over 2m2½f and I'd expect him to stay well.
Info: 4g Shirocco - Glenora Gale Mrs Judith Luff
A bumper winner at Wincanton last season, he'll go straight over hurdles, either over 2m4f or 2m at a stiff track, but we'll wait for a bit of rain first.
Ecu De La Noverie
RPR - OR -
Info: 4g Linda's Lad - Quat'Sous D'Or David Maxwell Racing
A big, strong horse who won a 2m3f chase on soft ground in Pau and will run in a novice hurdle before going back chasing at some stage. We'll start him at 2m and go from there.
Evidence De Thaix
RPR - OR -
Info: 4f Network - Nacre De Thaix JP McManus
Twice a winner on the Flat in France up to 1m5f on good to soft, she's a lovely strong filly who looks a good prospect for mares' races. She has a good pedigree and lots of potential.
RPR 117h OR -
Info: 6m Kayf Tara - Keel Road British Racing Club
Ran well on her reappearance at Chepstow on good ground and you'd hope she was up to winning a mares' novice hurdle fairly soon, although she has the scope to go chasing at some stage.
Info: 4g Fame And Glory - Princess Supreme Ronnie Bartlett
Form: 5- (point form)
Showed promise in an Irish point-to-point and looks a nice type who should do very well, either in a hurdle or a bumper, when he runs for the first time in two or three weeks.
For Good Measure
RPR 138h OR 137h
Info: 7g King's Theatre - Afdala JP McManus
A full-brother to Balthazar King, he showed up well over fences last season – finishing third in the Grade 2 Pendil Novices' Chase over 2m 4½f at Kempton, after which we put him away to preserve his novice status – and should make an impression in long-distance chases this campaign. He'd want good ground and will be out in a fortnight or so.
From The Heart
RPR 86b OR -
Info: 4g Jeremy - Zephyr Lilly Zoe Moore-Williams
Third place in his first hurdle race at Market Rasen on Saturday – leading for a long way and only being run out of second late on after a mistake at the last – was a big step up on his bumper form and hopefully he'll be winning before too long.
Garde La Victoire
RPR 162c OR 149c
Info: 9g Kapgarde - Next Victory Diana Whateley
Wasn't a healthy horse in the second-half of last season and needed the run on his reappearance at Chepstow, so he'll improve on that. He's a high-class handicap chaser who could go 2m or 2m4f, so we have the option. The Haldon Gold Cup is a possibility after his fourth in the race last season and the handicapper seems to have given him a chance.
Info: 5g Presenting - Fair Choice The Grocer Syndicate
Ran well when third in the Persian War at Chepstow on his reappearance – an unusual race for us to run a horse in before he's won a novice hurdle – and I'd like to win an ordinary novice with him before we up our sights again. One with lots of promise.
Info: 4g No Risk At All - Good Time Girl Terry Warner
Won three times for us last season after arriving from France, his best effort coming when he finished second in the Grade 1 juvenile hurdle at Aintree over 2m1f. That sort of horse becomes more difficult to place as a four-year-old as he's now high in the handicap, but he'll start off at Cheltenham this weekend in a four-year-old conditions hurdle and he seems in good nick at home. He seems to be a horse that likes better ground, nothing too soft.
I'm A Game Changer
RPR 142h OR 138h
Info: 6g Arcadio - Drinadaly Paul and Clare Rooney
Ran very well in a 2m hurdle at Chepstow after his break and may well go novice chasing before too long. He's got a decent level of form but he'll be better when he settles better – he can be a bit keen, but he seems to be learning.
RPR 129h OR 139h
Info: 6g Jeremy - Get A Few Bob Back JP McManus
Won his only two hurdle races for us very well after winning his fourth Irish point-to-point, but he was never sparkling in his work last season and although there was nothing wrong with him, I wasn't happy and he didn't run. He should do well as a novice chaser but could win a good handicap hurdle if we decided to go down that route. We're looking forward to seeing him on the track again.
RPR 144c OR 137c
Info: 7g Kayf Tara - My Adventure Louisville Syndicate
Did very well in 2m4f chases last year and while his ideal conditions at the moment may be that trip on heavy ground, he'll be wanting 3m at some stage. We'll wait for buckets of rain before we start thinking about where to go first.
RPR 94 OR -
Info: 5g Stowaway - Hamalata Tim Syder and Martin St Quinton
Form: 41-1 (point form)
Won two Irish points, which is unusual, is going very well at this stage and will start in a bumper very soon.
RPR 134h OR 137h
Info: 5g Kayf Tara - Follow My Leader The Englands and Heywoods
Placed in three bumpers and ought to win one before he goes novice hurdling. He's ready to go but is a big, tall horse who will improve with time and will want 2m4f over hurdles.
Little Miss Poet
RPR 130h OR 130h
Info: 6m Yeats - R De Rien Sivola Michael and Mrs Norma Tuckey
Did well in handicap hurdles last season and may reappear in a valuable 2m5f open mares' handicap hurdle at Wincanton on November 10. She'll go novice chasing at some stage.
RPR 121h OR -
Info: 5g Doyen - Afdala Field, Cognet, Sigler and Walsh
Looked a very nice horse when second at Kempton on his final run last season but was a bit disappointing on his reappearance at Chepstow. I'm sure that was just a blip, though, and he's one who should do well this year.
Louis' Vac Pouch
RPR 147h OR 141h
Info: 6g Oscar - Coming Home The Vacuum Pouch Company Ltd
Below par in the spring, he ran respectably last time in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow, which was just to get him to settle as he's a bit keen at the best of times. With that under his belt he'll very likely go novice chasing and looks promising.
RPR 125h OR 123h
Info: 7g Kalanisi - Alexander Divine N Sutton
Wasn't a healthy horse last season and wasn't seen on the racecourse. Won well in a handicap hurdle at Newton Abbot on his first run back but disappointed at Fontwell last time when there was no pace and he was extremely keen. He'll probably go novice chasing and wouldn't mind any ground apart from very soft.
Info: 5g Getaway - Katies Pet Frank Jarvey
Really nice young horse who won his only bumper for us a year ago. Back in training now, ready to run and for sale, he'll go for a 2m4f novice hurdle to start with, on decent ground, but he's very much a chaser and has plenty of potential.
Info: 4g Sholokhov - Yorkshire Girl Owners For Owners
Won two bumpers last season but disappointed when only fourth at Bangor last time. I'm sure that was only a blip and hopefully he'll be back on track soon.
RPR 154c OR 127c
Info: 12g King's Theatre - Mulberry David Maxwell
A fantastic old horse with some very good form in big chases, he's well capable of winning again for his owner/rider, hopefully starting next weekend at Cheltenham in the amateurs' chase.v
Info: 4g September Storm - Royale Pearl Trevor Hemmings
Easily won a point-to-point bumper at Bitterley in April and made a very pleasing debut at Ffos Las at the weekend, travelling well throughout and shaping very encouragingly for the future in fourth place. I'm not sure yet if he'll run in another bumper or move straight to hurdles.
RPR 137c OR 139c
Info: 7g Kayf Tara - Dizzy Frizzy JP McManus
Had some decent form over hurdles before transferring his ability to fences when third in the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase. He didn't enjoy the best of health last season and his only other run was when not staying the trip in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham, but he's been dropped 6lb by the handicapper, is well treated over fences compared to his hurdling mark, and I think he's one to follow in 3m novice chases. It was a very hot race he reappeared in at Ffos Las on Saturday and he was a little bit rusty, but after a few early mistakes he ran on well and it was a satisfactory first run back
Info: 5g Oscar - Tirolean Dance Tim Syder
Showed up well in his bumpers without quite getting home, and will start over hurdles at 2m, as he has plenty of pace. I think he'll improve.
Ozzie The Oscar
RPR 157c, 140h OR 151c, 145h
Info: 7g Oscar - Private Official Bradley Partnership
A big improver last season, winning three from five over fences, he returned with an excellent effort when third in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las on Saturday, looking as though he was going to win at one stage. I was delighted with that and it should set him up nicely for a tilt at the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on November 6, as long as the ground's not too firm.
RPR 111h OR 120h
Info: 5m Kayf Tara - Celtic Native Bradley Partnership
She disappointed us a little when unplaced in a 2m4f handicap hurdle at Carlisle last week, travelling very well until after the third last but not really getting home, so at this stage we're a little bit stumped, but we'll see how she is in the next week and plan from there. She may go over fences in time.
Info: 9g King's Theatre - Famous Lady Merry Old Souls
Has been in training for four years and won just the one race from six starts [at Aintree three years ago], but he's had no end of minor hiccups and we've never had a clear run with him. He's still with us because we think we can still win with him, probably in 3m handicap or novice handicap chases.
RPR 123h OR 124h
Info: 5g Yeats - Moricana James Drummond
Did very well to win a 2m5f novice hurdle at Fontwell in March before disappointing slightly over 3m at Kempton, but I think he was just in need of a break. He'll go novice chasing, starting fairly soon, and I think 3m will be no problem.
Rock The Kasbah
RPR 155c OR 147c
Info: 8g Shirocco - Impudent Diana Whateley
Ran well for a long way at Chepstow this month and remains a top-class 3m handicap chaser. It's hard to start making plans until we get some rain, but we have plenty of options, with the Ladbrokes Trophy and the Grand National at the back of our minds.
RPR 149c OR 142c
Info: 7g Indian River - Easter Saturday Mrs I D Du Pre
Did well novice chasing last season but will find things harder this term off a high mark. He'll start wherever the ground's safe – not necessarily soft, just decent – and I think 3m will be his trip. He can continue to progress.
Roll The Dough
RPR 123c OR 117c
Info: 9g Definite Article - High Dough The Kingpins
Has won two handicap chases already this season and the first next option is on November 1 at Stratford in a 2m6f handicap chase. I don't think he'd want it too soft but on decent ground he'd go there with a real chance.
RPR 161c OR 150c
Info: 10g King's Theatre - Friendly Craic Lesley Field and Eileen Murphy
A Grade 2 winner in his pomp, he's been a great servant to us for a long time and with the handicapper ready to drop him to 145, he'll go to Ascot for a 0-145 at Ascot at the end of November. He was pulled up in both starts early last term but we identified a breathing problem that we hope we've sorted out. I'd love to see him win again.
RPR 126h OR 125h
Info: 5g Poliglote - Girelle Robert and Janet Gibbs
In reasonable form over novice hurdles last season, he's a lovely strong horse who'll start in a 2m4f maiden hurdle, probably on a left-handed track, because he can hang a bit. He has the size to jump a fence in time.
Show On The Road
RPR 128h OR 126h
Info: 7g Flemensfirth - Roses Of Picardy Roger and Catherine Penny
Twice a winner over hurdles at Exeter last season on heavy ground I thought he'd hate, he looks the type to go over fences before too long but stayed on well in fourth place over hurdles at Market Rasen on Saturday for what was a very respectable comeback.
RPR 138h OR 137h
Info: 6g Gamut - Sprightly Girl Tim Syder
Very decent novice hurdler last season – twice a winner and runner-up in a Sandown Grade 2 – who we hope will do very well over fences this year, although he may run in a handicap hurdle first. He had a good summer, came back in looking very well and I'd see him as a decent novice chaser over 2m4f and beyond.
RPR 136h OR 137h
Info: 6g Craigsteel - Blond's Addition Step By Step
A very thorough stayer who won a good handicap hurdle at Chepstow over just shy of 3m in soft ground last November. He'll go novice chasing over 3m and will be suited by plenty of give.
RPR 148h OR 137h
Info: 7g Authorized - Sworn Mum Terry Warner
Won twice on the Flat last year and has the option to stay handicap hurdling after a good third at Aintree on Grand National day, but he's quite high in the handicap and I could see him going back novice chasing after a couple of decent placed efforts last term. He needs to go right-handed over fences.
That's A Given
RPR 104b OR -
Info: 4g Great Pretender - Aulne River Andrew Cohen
Won a bumper well at Huntingdon last season so we took him to Punchestown but the race didn't go to suit and I'm sure he's capable of more than he produced that day. He has plenty of speed and will go novice hurdling over 2m.
Info: 4g Kayf Tara - Rosita Bay The Englands and Heywoods
Won on debut at Worcester this month but we won't be in any hurry to run him again. I think he'll need a bit of time to get over that, maybe go for another bumper or step into 2m4f novice hurdles – we'll let him tell us when he's ready and we'll decide nearer the time.
Info: 5g Black Sam Bellamy - Mrs Philip Brocade Racing
Bred by Richard Johnson and my wife Sarah, he won his bumper well at Newbury but then disappointed under a penalty at Wincanton in the spring. I think he's better than he showed there and he'll start in 2m4f novice hurdles.
Info: 5g Getaway - Simons Girl Brocade Racing
Form: 3- (point form)
Ran well in his only Irish point-to-point and looks one to start in novice hurdles at 2m4f or upwards.
Info: 4g Balko - Marie Royale St Quinton, D L Whateley and Syder
A half-brother to Vision Des Flos, he's always shown plenty at home and won his bumper last season at Warwick. A bit disappointing at Warwick on his reappearance but he hadn't schooled on grass since the spring and he made mistakes, looking hesitant and jumping left. He should benefit for the experience and is a very nice prospect.
Info: 5m Black Sam Bellamy - Its Meant To Be Mrs Sally White
Scored second time out last season at Exeter and ran some good races in defeat, despite showing a tendency to hang left, which we've tried to correct. She looks one to start in a handicap hurdle off a fair mark, but she'll run in mares' novice chases later on.
RPR 140c OR 136c
Info: 9g Kayf Tara - Come The Dawnv The Englands and Heywoods
Won the Swinton Hurdle back in 2015 but has been placed eight times in chases without winning. You'd have thought he'll be landing a handicap chase or novice chase before too long, because he has the ability. I think 2m4f is his trip.
RPR 138h OR 137h
Info: 7g Westerner - Sarahall Mick Fitzgerald Racing Club
Has had his jumping issues but won well on his last two runs of last season, looks one to improve a fair bit and may go to Cheltenham at the weekend before beginning a novice chase career. He'd go on anything but quick ground.
Who's My Jockey
RPR 134h OR 136h
Info: 5g Yeats - Skandisk Paul and Clare Rooney
A good third at Stratford recently on a track that was probably too tight for him. I'd say he wants 3m on a more galloping track – we tried him over the trip at Aintree on his final start of last season but I think he was over the top by then, so I'd be happy to try again. He could go novice chasing before too long.
Info: 4g Arcadio - What A Bleu Louisville Syndicate Elite
Ran a very respectable race on his debut in a Ffos Las bumper last Saturday, looking like he had a chance three furlongs out but just running a bit green in the closing stages. It was a run full of promise.