El Fabiolo and Jonbon set for Champion Chase showdown

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El Fabiolo and Jonbon set for Champion Chase showdown

El Fabiolo and Jonbon head a list of eight runners in Wednesday’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

The big two will clash for the third time, with honours even heading into this year’s Festival showdown. Jonbon struck the first blow in the Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree two years ago, but El Fabiolo was a decisive victor in last season’s Arkle.

Edwardstone has been beaten twice by Jonbon this term but can boast a previous Festival success on his extensive CV, having landed the 2022 Arkle.

El Fabiolo en route to winning the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase at Leopardstown

Image: El Fabiolo en route to winning the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase at Leopardstown

Captain Guinness was second to Energumene in this contest 12 months ago, while Elixir De Nutz will bid to follow up his surprise triumph over Jonbon in January’s rescheduled Clarence House Chase at Prestbury Park.

Boothill, 2022 Champion Chase runner-up Funambule Sivola and Gentleman De Mee complete the line-up. Ballyburn will be a red-hot favourite to kick off day two of this year’s Festival with victory in the Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle, with just seven rivals set to take him on.

Readin Tommy Wrong and Daryl Jacob win the Lawlor's Of Naas Novice Hurdle

Image: Readin Tommy Wrong and Daryl Jacob win the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle

His trainer Willie Mullins will also saddle four of those, including Naas Grade One runner-up Ile Atlantique and Predators Gold, who has been second twice at elite level at Leopardstown.

Ben Pauling’s Handstands heads the home team after completing a hat-trick of wins over timber in the Listed-class Sidney Banks at Huntingdon.

Last year’s Champion Bumper second Fact To File features among six entries still standing in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, having already claimed Grade One glory over fences for Mullins at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Fact To File wins at Leopardstown for Mark Walsh

Image: Fact To File wins at Leopardstown for Mark Walsh

Paul Nicholls will be represented by Stay Away Fay, who prevailed in the Albert Bartlett 12 months ago. However, Nigel Twiston-Davies was forced to withdraw Broadway Boy following an unsatisfactory tracheal wash and Dan Skelton has left out Grey Dawning.

Former Gold Cup hero Minella Indo is one of a dozen runners in the Glenfarclas Chase, which will also feature last year’s Gordon Elliott one-two of Delta Work and Galvin. Mullins is set to saddle nine runners in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, as he bids to win that contest for a record-extending 13th time.

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