Jonbon back in action in ‘competitive’ Shloer Chase

Jonbon is looking to book his ticket for the Tingle Creek by getting his season off to the perfect possible start in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham on Sunday.

Only beaten twice in his life, both those defeats have come at Cheltenham but he has lost little in either race.

As yet, no horse has been able to live with his Nicky Henderson-trained stablemate Constitution Hill, so he is forgiven for coming second in the 2022 Supreme, while his trainer feels he was not quite at his best in the Arkle in March behind El Fabiolo.

That view was supported given he went on to win at Aintree and Sandown, latterly versus his elders, but he faces far from a penalty kick against Edwardstone and Nube Negra.

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Nicky Henderson has high hopes for Jonbon this season
Nicky Henderson has high hopes for Jonbon this season (David Davies/PA)

Henderson said: “I’m looking forward to the race within reason, well as much as you ever do.

“He’s done plenty but with Edwardstone and Nube Negra, it’s a good competitive opener for the season.

“He proved over two miles (what he can do) and I was always wanting to go two and a half. We’re going to have to ask the same question again on Sunday. Does he want two and a half? We’ll ask the question again anyway.”

Nube Negra has won this race for the last two years but on quicker ground. He is, undoubtedly though, at his best on his first run of the season.

“Statistics show Nube Negra is very good first time out. I can’t deny that, he’s trying to be a three-time winner of the Shloer and that would be phenomenal,” said Dan Skelton.

“There is every right to be proud of what he is doing rather than saying ‘down the road he gets beaten in the Champion Chase’. Of course, we’d love to win that but I’m proud of what he can do, not what he hasn’t.

“This has been his big aim and he’s very ready.”

Nube Negra is at his best first time out
Nube Negra is at his best first time out (David Davies/PA)

Edwardstone returns to the scene of where he ran so poorly in March but Alan King’s charge had a solid record before that.

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Jockey Tom Cannon said: “He was struggling down the back with me in the Champion Chase, as he normally takes you into a race very easily.

“I knew at the top of the hill that I had to ask a few questions of his jumping down the back, and he responded, but I used my petrol up earlier than I liked.

“Once we jumped three out and turned in, I wasn’t holding on to a lot of horse, which I think was there for everyone to see, really.

“That wasn’t Edwardstone at his best, but we should see a different side to him at the weekend.”

The field is completed by Gary Moore’s Editeur Du Gite.

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