bet365 Celebration Chase
|Grade 1, Sandown 13:40
2m, Class 1
1 Jonbon 8/13F
2 Captain Guinness 6/1
3 Greaneteen 7/2
5 ran Distances: 3¾l, 15l, 11l
Time: 3m 50.70s (slow by 1.10s)
It was something of a surprise Henderson decided to run him again, given his busy back-end to the season, and in open company.
It was not all plain sailing for the brother of Douvan, however. Having led early against his four rivals, he made two jumping errors and was briefly shuffled back to last.
Coleman gave him plenty of time to get his act together and he was soon on the bridle again, and was back in contention by the Pond Fence, where Champion Chase runner-up Captain Guinness and Rachael Blackmore had asserted.
Beating off Greaneteen, who had won this race for the past two years, the pair had it to themselves over the last two fences, but Jonbon’s stamina kicked in, and a superb jump at the last sealed the deal for the three-and-three-quarter-length winner.
Henderson said: “It was brave (running him). We had ummed and ahhed all week. I’ve been in Punchestown all week and the boys have been getting this fellow ready – Paddy (Murphy) who rides him every day, and Charlie (Morlock), who is my right-hand man, I’ve been talking to them every day and there was just no reason not to run him.
“It is very un-Henderson like sort of tactics. There was no reason I could find (not to run. I was talking to JP (McManus) for three days and he said you have got to earn your corn as you are the trainer. That was my final deciding ball, that if we take these two-milers on we will meet next season and cope with them then we can start thinking of Tingle Creek and things like that next season.
“That (mistake down the back) was the only thing that was probably novicey about him today. It was one where he didn’t know which way to go. He had been very long at the ditch and he just didn’t quite make his mind up. To come back from that as a novice, I think that makes a man of him. Three fences later he is back on the bridle as if nothing had happened but something had happened, something quite significant in fact had happened.
“A lot of horses would have dropped themselves out after that mistake, but I think that is testament to his engine.”
Reflecting on Cheltenham, the Seven Barrows trainer said: “Cheltenham was disappointing. I was worried when this ground was going soft as I didn’t want the chase course going soft as I do think he is a better horse on good ground. He didn’t jump as well as he could at Cheltenham, but take nothing away from the winner (El Fabiolo) who again looked fabulous at Punchestown.
“Two years ago it was Energuemene versus Shishkin. Now the next dust-up is going to be El Fabiolo and Jonbon. It is one all (between them). I do (think on better ground we can get the better of him). I was mighty impressed with El Fabiolo the other day. We have proved today we can take on the best two-milers.
“Today bar one he was excellent and he will be excellent again at Cheltenham I hope next year and there is a lot to look forward to.”
bet365 Celebration Chase
£160,000 guaranteed, 5yo plus, 2m, Class 1
Going: Good to Soft, Good in places
POS. DIST HORSE AGE WGT TRAINER JOCKEY SP
1 Jonbon 7 11-10 Nicky Henderson Aidan Coleman 8/13F
2 3¾ Captain Guinness 8 11-10 Henry De Bromhead Rachael Blackmore 6/1
3 15 Greaneteen 9 11-10 Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden 7/2
4 11 Editeur Du Gite 9 11-10 Gary Moore Niall Houlihan 9/1
5 19 Funambule Sivola 8 11-10 Venetia Williams Charlie Deutsch 33/1