Jonbon lived up to the huge billing that preceded him on his debut when smoothly dispatching his rivals for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville in the BetVictor Standard National Hunt Flat Race at Newbury.
The full-brother to the brilliant Douvan – who had changed hands for a record £570,000 at the sales in November after a point-to-point win – was not in any way fazed by this first outing under rules, handling the preliminaries and the race itself with an admirable professionalism.
The 5-6 favourite settled and travelled smoothly – and was too strong for nearest challenger Flying Demon, readily stretching four and a quarter lengths clear at the line.
Henderson said of the six-year-old: “We are very lucky to be sent horses like this, and you’ve got to say you feel the pressure that comes with it. We were waiting for what fortunately happened – he was relaxed during the race and quickened up well.”
Jonbon, who came back to the strains of a Bon Jovi hit, will summer at owner JP McManus’ Martinstown Stud in Ireland, and Henderson added: “We have sighed a sigh of relief and can now dream of what might happen next year. I think he is a bit special.
“He’s a bit of a fidget at home and doesn’t stand still for long, which is one reason I wanted to bring him to Newbury. But he appears to have everything – the pedigree and the looks. He ticks every box you could wish to see and is a gorgeous horse.”
BetVictor cut Jonbon to 12-1 from 16-1 for next year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Henderson reported he had only done four pieces of work, and already jumps well.
De Boinville also had high praise for the winner.
He said: “I was really impressed with him. I watched his point-to-point, and it was clear he’s come from a very good school in Ireland. Nicky has trained him just like any other horse, irrespective of his price tag.
“It’s the start of his career, and we’re mindful that it it will hopefully be onwards and upwards.”