Richard Johnson clearly delighted after the win on Defi Du Seuil
Defi Du Seuil, trained by Philip Hobbs and ridden by Richard Johnson, won the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson always looked happy on the Philip Hobbs-trained gelding as Mega Fortune, Dinaria Des Obeaux and Evening Hush cut out the running.
Defi Du Seuil, wearing the first colours of owner JP McManus, cruised through to challenge at the second-last flight and was switched nearer to the stands rail.
The 5-2 favourite soon took command and pulled clear on the run-in to score by five lengths from Mega Fortune, who held Bapaume by a short head for second.
Johnson 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."
Hobbs said: "That's fantastic, he couldn't have won any better.
"It's a big relief as he's been favourite all year – it's great when it goes right.
"He travelled so well, we were so lucky to get him.
"He could go Champion Hurdle or Arkle next year, we'll have to see."