Jonbon sees off El Fabiolo for Celebration success

Daily News
8 Min Read
Jonbon sees off El Fabiolo for Celebration success

Jonbon emerged a convincing victor in his long-awaited clash with El Fabiolo in the bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown.

The pair had initially been due to meet in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot back in January only to be scuppered by the weather, while a possible Queen Mother Champion Chase face-off did not happen as Jonbon was ruled out by trainer Nicky Henderson during a tough period when his stable was under a cloud.

However, the Seven Barrows team has been resurgent in recent weeks with Jonbon quickly back in action after a hard-fought win when stepped up to two-and-a-half miles in the Melling Chase at Aintree earlier this month.

Ridden with supreme confidence by Nico de Boinville, Jonbon (15/8) was to the fore from the off, putting in some extravagant leaps and turning for home firmly in command.

He fairly flew up the straight, clearing the last with a good advantage and galloped home four lengths in front of the 4/6 favourite El Fabiolo, who made a couple of jumping errors as he failed to atone for a costly mistake at Cheltenham that had seen him pulled up in the Champion Chase.

Henderson said: “I said to Nico after to Fantastic Lady (who came from last to first in the Oaksey Chase), ‘don’t do that in the next’ as that was meant to make the running and he ended up at the back. He knows he has my full trust but I can’t believe he was ever going to drop this lad out and he didn’t.

“We knew a week ago whatever happens we were going to have to go out and drum this race and make it a proper test. We had to test the stamina because we stay two and a half and we had to test everyone’s jumping.

“He’s not flawless as we saw at Cheltenham (when second in the rescheduled Clarence House) but he’s brave and two brave people went out there today and thank goodness they’re all in one piece and we start again next year.

“It was just a shame he couldn’t be at Cheltenham because once El Fabiolo had popped out of the race, then it looked winnable from Jonbon’s point of view. He would have to have jumped round himself but he couldn’t because he wasn’t there.

“I think he’s regained his place in the pecking order of two-mile chasers. He gets from A to B very quickly.

“He’s flown the flag all year and it was a brave horse to do that today and a brave jockey as well to be fair, as he had to ask him questions.”

Henderson and owner JP McManus will now consider future plans over the summer, with options over a variety of distances on the table.

The trainer added: “I was always thinking the Ascot Chase might be the place to start him next season, but Nico’s now talking about three whereas at Aintree he was saying go back to two! I don’t know what he’s thinking but it doesn’t matter. We’ve got all summer and we can’t ask the horse. We’ve just got to decide ourselves where is his optimum.

“Dusting it up like that and making it a proper test of jumping and galloping is pretty damn good.”

Fantastic performance seals Oaksey honours for Lady

Fantastic Lady put up a smooth display to land the bet365 Oaksey Chase to initiate a double for Henderson at Sandown.

Third in the race 12 months ago to Hewick, she was having only her fourth outing of the campaign after running well for a long way in the Topham Chase at Aintree over the Grand National fences and having also gone close in the Grand Sefton back in November.

Fantastic Lady scored for the Seven Barrows team

Image: Fantastic Lady scored for the Seven Barrows team

Having been dropped out at the rear by De Boinville, Fantastic Lady moved stealthily into contention at the Pond Fence.

A mistake there by The Real Whacker cost him any chance and with Hitman finding little under pressure, she only had Ga Law to beat, which she did by two-and-a-half lengths.

“She is remarkable and we kept her all season for the Topham,” said Henderson.

“She was second in the Topham last year and then came here and was third in this last year and I thought we haven’t got anything else to do, so let’s have a look at it.

“She was really good and Nico said ‘it’s lucky you don’t tie me down [to instruction]’ as the plan was to get up there and go and when it was all happening up front, Nico said he decided to do the complete opposite. Well done to Nico, fair play it was a great piece of riding.”

Minella Cocooner grabs Sandown Gold for Mullins

Seven days on from winning the Scottish National in a photo finish, Willie and Danny Mullins repeated the trick as Minella Cocooner was delivered right on the line to catch long-time leader Annual Invictus in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.

Minella Cocooner jumps the last at Sandown

Image: Minella Cocooner jumps the last at Sandown

Mullins had been confirmed as champion trainer just 30 minutes earlier when El Fabiolo finished second in the Celebration Chase, so it was perhaps inevitable that he would claim the last feature handicap of the jumps season.

Despite dominating at Cheltenham once more, it was not until the victory of I Am Maximus in the Grand National at Aintree that the title became a possibility and Macdermott’s win at Ayr last week put Mullins within touching distance.

With the pressure off, Danny Mullins crept into contention on the 17/2 chance but Annual Invictus did not give up without a fight.

Two from home there were still plenty in with chances, but it only concerned Minella Cocooner and Annual Invictus at the last and it was the Mullins’ runner who came out on top in a tight finish.

The runner-up lost very little in defeat for Chris Gordon, with Mullins’ Nick Rockett and Paul Townend back in third

Share This Article
Leave a comment