Newbury return on Jonbon’s agenda

Nicky Henderson is likely to take a tried-and-tested route with the exciting Jonbon – and has identified Newbury as his likely starting point.

A full brother to Willie Mullins’ multiple Grade One-winner Douvan, Jonbon was bought by J P McManus for £570,000 after winning an Irish point-to-point.

On his debut for Henderson he cruised to success in a bumper at Newbury in March, and is likely to begin his hurdling career back there – but Henderson would rather talk about his ability than his price tag.

“I hope he will lose this price tag thing sooner rather than later in life, because every time he runs everyone starts saying what he cost. That is a tag he has got to live with – it is not his fault,” Henderson told Unibet.

“He has grown into a magnificent horse through the summer. He’d had a tough time when he came over – he ran in his point-to-point, then he came over to the sales and by the time he got back here he didn’t look great.

“We put him back together quite quickly, which was a credit to him. He took a fair bit of time to settle down – he doesn’t like new things, they fuss him. He has got to stick to his routine and now he is back on it, he is loving it. He jumps beautifully – he was so well educated at home.

“I wasn’t going to run him in that bumper if I didn’t think he was capable of winning. I wasn’t going to make a fool out of myself or him. It was a relief to see him do it so easily, but not a surprise.

“He has got everything – he is a full brother to Douvan, he has got speed, he has got jumping ability, he goes on any ground, although I am not going to run him on fast ground.

“He has done plenty – we have had no hiccups, but I have not been in any great rush because of the weather. You can imagine where he is going to start, in one of those Newbury type novice hurdles that we have used for most of them.”

In a stable tour for his yard sponsor, Henderson confirmed Champ has undergone a back operation – with the Betfair Chase his first aim.

“At the moment he is going really well – he looks superb,” said Henderson.

Champ is heading to Haydock for the Betfair Chase
Champ is heading to Haydock for the Betfair Chase (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“The Betfair Chase is the project. The one thing you need to keep in mind for Champ is that he has to go left-handed, so the King George is of no use to him.

“We have always said he has the potential to be a Gold Cup horse, and he has Gold Cup form, so we have just got to make sure everything goes right.”

Among Henderson’s other stars,;Chantry House will start in the the Future Stars Intermediate Chase – with Shishkin on course for the Tingle Creek, having had a breathing operation.

Epatante will head up to Newcastle to try and win the Fighting Fifth once more; Pentland Hills has had a new setback which will prevent him from going novice chasing until the spring – but he will return this season, and Cesarewitch winner Buzz will go down the staying hurdling route.

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