Jonbon ready to take advantage of El Fabiolo absence

Nicky Henderson’s Jonbon bids to continue a fine season in the My Pension Expert Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The eight-year-old has won both starts this term, taking the Shloer Chase by nine and a half lengths ahead of Edwardstone on his seasonal debut in November.

He then went to Sandown for the Tingle Creek, beating the same rival again to claim a two-and-three-quarter-length victory on heavy ground.

Nico de Boinville took the ride on both occasions to deputise for Jonbon’s usual rider Aidan Coleman, who is out injured, but De Boinville himself is now on the sidelines and James Bowen has been called up in his absence.

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The contest was scheduled to take place at Ascot last weekend but when the meeting was called off due to frost, Cheltenham became the alternative host, scuppering an anticipated clash with Willie Mullins’ El Fabiolo.

Jonbon (Nigel French/PA)

Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, said: “Nicky is very happy with him and we’re hoping for a good run and that all goes well. We’re looking forward to him.

“It will be nice ground there and it can only be a benefit to him to get some more Cheltenham experience.

“James is riding really well and riding plenty of winners and we’re looking forward to seeing him riding him.”

Henderson added via his Unibet blog: “It is a job well done by the Jockey Club and the British Horseracing Authority to get this race restaged and we are very happy to be taking part.

“Unfortunately, it’s not the clash we all wanted with El Fabiolo, but Jonbon is there and in great form at home.

Jonbon winning the Shloer Chase
Jonbon winning the Shloer Chase (David Davies/PA)

“James has done plenty of schooling on him, primarily because we had him on standby for Ascot in case Nico wasn’t back in time, but as it was the race was off anyway. Hopefully this will set him up nicely for the Festival.”

Jonbon will face four rivals, amongst them Gary Moore’s Editeur Du Gite – fourth behind him in the Shloer and the winner of the Desert Orchid last time out.

Elixir De Nutz, third in the Desert Orchid and the winner of the Haldon Gold Cup, is also running for Joe Tizzard and Freddie Gingell.

Richard Hobson’s Fugitif, winner of the December Gold Cup at the track, is set to be ridden by Gavin Sheehan as Dan Skelton’s Nube Negra completes the field.

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