Tag Archive for: Clarence House

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.

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.

Big guns poised for belated Clarence House clash

Alan King insists Saturday’s Albert Bartlett Clarence House Chase is “not the be-all and end-all” for Edwardstone as he prepares for a mouthwatering clash with Energumene at Cheltenham.

Last season’s Arkle winner made a winning return to action in the Tingle Creek at Sandown, before unseating Tom Cannon early on in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton over Christmas.

Plans to give the second-season chaser more experience have been scuppered this term by ground which has either been too quick or frozen.

King is therefore grateful the Clarence House has been rescheduled from last weekend’s abandoned fixture at Ascot.

He said: “We are very appreciative that we rescheduled and we badly need to get him out, you know?

“He has been simmering away for some time. We are happy with him, but tomorrow is not the be-all and end-all. We just need to get a run into him.”

Of his Kempton mistake, King added: “He wouldn’t be the first good horse to unseat, so it happens occasionally.

“Edwardstone’s preparation has gone well, but we do need to get a run into him.”

Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Energumene has been beaten just once in nine previous starts over fences, with that defeat coming at the hands of Shishkin in this race last season.

Energumene returns to the scene of his Champion Chase success
Energumene returns to the scene of his Champion Chase success (Mike Egerton/PA)

The Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old was last seen sauntering to a 15-length success in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork in December – a race he also won en-route to the Clarence House last season.

Energumene’s rider Paul Townend has suggested his main market rival has a few questions to answer following his Kempton faux-pas, saying in his Ladbrokes blog: “I am delighted that the Clarence House Chase was rescheduled at Cheltenham.

“It is a bigger field but Energumene is still the one you would want to ride in the race. He is the reigning champion chaser. His run at Cork in the Hilly Way Chase was a nice introduction for the season.

“He didn’t do anything flashy, just did what he needed to. This will be a bigger test as he takes on Edwardstone.

“Edwardstone is exciting but comes here off the back of an unseat which isn’t ideal, especially when you are taking on a horse like ours. Reports say he is jumping well, but in top-class races like this, you can’t come with any excuses.”

While only six runners will line up for the Grade One contest, there should be plenty of pace in the race courtesy of the Gary Moore-trained Editeur Du Gite, who was the beneficiary of Edwardstone’s blunder at Kempton, landing that two-mile contest by 13 lengths.

Moore knows the nine-year-old will have to be at the top of his game to trouble the big two, however.

He said: “He has got to reproduce something like he did at Kempton to be competitive in this race.

Editeur Du Gite will set a good gallop under Niall Houlihan
Editeur Du Gite will set a good gallop under Niall Houlihan (Nigel French/PA)

“He is entitled to be there, so hopefully he can build on what he did last time, because he will need to.

“He likes to go forward and that will be the plan again.

“The time was fairly good at Kempton, given the ground was soft. He jumped slightly left-handed last time, so going back that way round should benefit him a bit perhaps.”

Amarillo Sky has won his two starts this term for Joe Tizzard, both coming in handicaps.

Amarillo Sky will bid for a hat-trick after two handicap wins
Amarillo Sky will bid for a hat-trick after two handicap wins (John Walton/PA)

He was due to be the only horse to take on Edwardstone and Energumene at Ascot and Tizzard feels that with more runners and less prize money up for grabs this weekend, it was an opportunity missed.

“Amarillo Sky was all set to run at Ascot last weekend. We would have been one of just three runners in a race worth £175,000 there, whereas this is worth £90,000 and there are six running, so it is a less attractive proposition,” he said in his Coral blog.

“We could have gone to Sandown next weekend instead, but the owner is keen to run, which is fair enough, and we will find out where we stand with the big guns by running here.

“His future is probably in handicaps, but I can still see him finishing third or fourth here. We shouldn’t lose anything by running, and he does run well at the track, but it’s still a bit disappointing we didn’t get to run at Ascot as planned, but these things happen.”

Energumene and Edwardstone handed rearranged Clarence House opportunity

The British Horseracing Authority has confirmed the Clarence House Chase will take place at Cheltenham next Saturday.

It is the third time since 2013 that Ascot, the race’s home, has been abandoned due to the weather and Cheltenham a week later has stepped into the breach to stage the race.

The BHA were keen to thank the Horserace Betting Levy Board for its contribution to the prize-money, with £90,000 up for grabs.

Entries will revert to the early-closing stage, with confirmations made on Monday morning followed by declarations on Thursday.

Punters were looking forward to a clash between last year’s Champion Chase winner Energumene and the Arkle hero Edwardstone – and after connections of the former confirmed earlier in the week they were keen to run if the race was rearranged, Alan King joined suit.

He said: “We’ll go there, that’s the plan.

“If it hadn’t been rescheduled and then Newbury was off (Game Spirit Chase) then we really are in trouble.

“I’m very grateful they’ve put it back on and that will be the plan.”

Energumene and Edwardstone top Clarence House contenders

Energumene and Edwardstone are the headline acts in eight entries for the Sbk Clarence House Chase at Ascot on January 21.

The two-mile showpiece produced one of the races of the season 12 months ago, when Shishkin got the better of the Willie Mullins-trained Energumene following an epic duel.

But there will be no repeat as Shishkin does not have an entry this year, with Nicky Henderson instead looking to step up in trip.

Tingle Creek winner Edwardstone is on course for Alan King, having unseated at Kempton over Christmas. King has a second string to his bow in the shape of Messire Des Obeaux, who has not run since finishing third to L’Homme Presse at Ascot in December 2021.

Funambule Sivola ran a career-best in the Champion Chase when second to Energumene and Venetia Williams’ charge could take the Irish runner on again.

Fugitif (Richard Hobson), Amarillo Sky (Joe Tizzard), Minella Drama (Donald McCain) and Sizing Pottsie (David Pipe) complete the list of possibles.