28 April 2023

Jonbon following Altior route in chasing Sandown glory

28 April 2023

Jonbon has the chance to replicate the achievement of Seven Barrows alumni Altior when he lines up in the bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown.

Nicky Henderson’s dual Champion Chase winner followed up his Arkle success in 2017 by landing this as a fencing rookie – his first of three victories in the race – and Jonbon will now also attempt to win it as a novice, stepping into open company for the first time.

Although he fell short in his own quest for Cheltenham Festival glory when second behind El Fabiolo in the Arkle, Henderson’s strapping seven-year-old got back on track with a bloodless 43-length success in the Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree and now returns to a course and distance he has already tasted Grade One glory at this season.

“He’s come out of the race in Liverpool good and Nicky is really happy with him,” said Frank Berry, racing manager for Jonbon’s owner JP McManus.

“He was very good at Aintree and did everything well and it’s a nice race for him to wind up the season and step into open company. He’s in good form and he will hopefully give a good account of himself. You will know where you stand for the start of the new season and we can take it from there.

“He has the right man training him and he’s happy with him.”

This race has seen no shortage of repeat winners in the past 10 years and another horse looking to follow in the footsteps of Altior is Greaneteen.

Paul Nicholls has won this race seven times in the past and his course specialist has an impeccable record at the Esher track, winning this the past two years and now searching for a hat-trick on the back of a third in the Champion Chase last time.

“He loves the track and he comes good at this time of year,” said Nicholls.

“He ran very well in the Champion Chase and would have been second if he hadn’t made a horrendous mistake at the top of the hill, which is unlike him.

“He did well to finish third and he seems in good order. He will need to be to beat Jonbon because I think Jonbon is an improving horse. It will be a good race and we think we have quite a nice chance.”

It would be a lovely way to end the year if he could win

Henry de Bromhead’s consistent Captain Guinness was a place ahead of Greaneteen at Prestbury Park and looks to add to Special Tiara’s 2015 victory for the Knockeen handler, while in fourth at the Festival was Gary Moore’s Editeur Du Gite.

Prior to that the nine-year-old had caused a shock in both the Desert Orchid and the Clarence House and would prove a fitting winner for connections who tasted success in this race with Sire De Grugy in both 2013 and 2014.

“It would be a lovely way to end the year if he could win,” said Moore.

“It’s no easy task with Jonbon in there and the two that beat him at Cheltenham. But hopefully the ground will be a bit better for him this time. It isn’t his favourite way round but he’s in relatively good order so fingers crossed.

“He’s had a good year and this would be a nice way to end it. It would be lovely to win it again, it’s a race I like, I think it’s a great race and a great spectacle. We’ll do our best.”

The field is complete by Venetia Williams’ Funambule Sivola, who was an early faller in the Champion Chase but won the Game Spirit on his penultimate start.

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