NICKY Henderson breathed a sigh of relief after the hugely talented Jonbon set up an immediate return to the top table after securing a career first success at Cheltenham with a stylish success in the Shloer Chase this afternoon.
With his only two defeats coming at Prestbury Park behind stablemate Constitution Hill in the 2022 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and in this year’s Sporting Life Arkle behind El Fabiolo, the Walk In The Park gelding finally laid his Cheltenham ghost to rest in the Grade 2 contest.
???? Jonbon dazzles in the Shloer Chase— Racing TV (@RacingTV) November 19, 2023
?? 13 runs
?? 11 wins
?? G1 Celebration Chase
?? G1 Maghull Novices' Chase
?? G1 Henry VIII Novices' Chase
?? G1 Top Novices' Hurdle
?? Four G2 victories
?? Superstar@sevenbarrows | @NdeBoinville | @CheltenhamRaces pic.twitter.com/iQ1Xu86sop
Racing in the front pair from the get-go alongside Editeur Du Gite, the 4/9 Favourite jumped with great fluency in the hands of Nico de Boinville who was deputising for his injured regular rider Aidan Coleman.
A big jump at the fourth last saw Jonbon take several lengths out of his rivals and open up into a lead he would not surrender much to the delight of his legion of fans.
Although Edwardstone attempted to go with Jonbon he could not live with the J.P. McManus-owned gelding, who after putting in two more solid jumps over the second last and final fence quickened away up the run in to score by nine and a half lengths.
Henderson said: “They went a good gallop and it wasn’t a tactical race. It was a sensible, good honest gallop in that ground. It was going to find him out first time if he wasn’t ready, but he was (ready). You have to be very pleased. He was just pricking his ears on the run in and I could see those two great big ears lock on. He has had a nice time and he has enjoyed himself. He should come on for it.
“He had the race (in the bag) when he quickened off the bend as they were going to be pushed to get him from nerves. He has two away days at Windsor. He enjoyed that, although he got very sweaty that day. He went and had a walk around Newbury the other day before racing. He walked around one lap of the parade ring and was then out and home.
"It is all part of his preparation. Today he travelled well and all the team are here today. Anything strange to him he goes help, but once he has done it once he is fine. He is not as bad as he was. Everyone was watching his first few runs thinking he had been through a snow drift.
“The only two times he has been beaten are around here once by Constitution Hill and then by El Fabiolo in the Arkle. It is good for him to come around here as hopefully he will come around here later in the season.”
An outing in next month’s Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park now awaits Jonbon, which he was trimmed into 1/4 favourite by the race sponsor and Paddy Power.
Henderson added: “At the back end of last season after the Arkle we were dying to try two and a half miles, but the two mile novices’ race at Aintree was much the easier so we stayed at two miles then 13 days later he went to Sandown to take on the older boys to find out if he was a two miler against the second, third and fourth in the Champion Chase and he didn’t wait for them. He looks like a two-miler there, and he has got to stay there for now because of the Tingle Creek. There is the conundrum as to how far he will get as I’m convinced he will get further but you don’t need to.”
Jockey Nico de Boinville told ITV Racing: “I really enjoyed myself and I hope he did too.
“He is a pleasure to ride. The team at home – Paddy who rides him every day and Robin who looks after him – have got him ready for today.
“It’s hard work out there on that ground but he has jumped from fence to fence and enjoyed himself, which is the main thing.
“He is very slick and you would get other horses in trouble with his jumping.
“He’ll come on loads for that. He wasn’t 100% fit but was near enough there and that was a great starting point for the season.”