Jonbon remains unbeaten over the larger obstacles following two victories, including last time at Grade One level at Sandown; El Fabiolo looks a genuine threat for the Arkle having won very easily at Leopardstown last weekend and is now 7/4 for the Festival race
Friday 10 February 2023 15:58, UK
Jonbon is out to cement his Arkle claims in the Virgin Bet Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Warwick on Saturday.
Nicky Henderson's seven-year-old has taken to fences seamlessly and the only defeat in his career remains at the hands of his seemingly other-worldly stablemate Constitution Hill in last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
With El Fabiolo, a neck behind Jonbon at Aintree last season, setting a new marker in the Irish Arkle last weekend, the JP McManus-owned gelding needs to reassert his authority in the ante-post market.
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With experience of Warwick's tricky fences already banked, Jonbon will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Edwardstone, who won this 12 months ago before taking Arkle glory.
Frank Berry, McManus' racing manager, said: "Touch wood, he's very exciting. He's been very good to date over fences and he seems to be really liking it.
"I believe Nicky is very happy with him and let's hope all goes well now on Saturday. This is a competitive little race and Warwick is a lovely track which tests your jumping.
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"Most of these races are competitive, Saturday is no different and that is what it is all about."
Jonbon faces three rivals and one in particular might make him pull out all the stops.
Gary Moore's Haddex Des Obeaux has won his last two in the style of a rapidly-improving young novice and is well worth his place in a Grade Two. Sandy Thomson's Bass Rock and Dan Skelton's Calico are two other worthwhile opponents.