Nicky Henderson has an impressive resume, which includes seven Arkle Challenge Trophies. He is the leader in novice-distance racing in the National Hunt calendar. Jonbon is his best hope to add another trophy to the silverware collection. He’s the favourite of those who wager on horse racing for the Grade 1 Cheltenham Festival fixture.
It’s clear why the seven year old horse is gaining so much attention. He won eight of nine races under rules. His only loss was at Cheltenham last season, where he finished second to Constitution Hill, his stablemate and undoubtedly the most talented jumps racer today.
He said “I don’t think I’ve got a better candidate,” Jonbon, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner up, stated. Jonbon followed up with a Grade 1 at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.
“Without Constitution Hill, he would have been a good Supreme Winner, but he supported it up at Aintree. He was very proud of his performance, and he has also grown tremendously.
Despite the loss, the French-bred horse defeated El Fabiolo by a neck in the Grade 1 Top Nominices’ Hurdle at Aintree a month later. Jonbon has won victories at Warwick and Sandown this season by seven and eight lengths, respectively. He will be hard to beat at Cheltenham.
However, he will be up against some stiff competition. A very strong field is expected to line up beside him. Keep that in mind as we look at some horses that could be denying Henderson his eighth Arkle victory.
The seven-year-old mare has had a successful career, with five wins from seven starts. This includes dominant victories at Cork Punchestown, Leopardstown, and Cork by 19 lengths (x2), and 28 lengths, respectively. This Mullins-trained thoroughbred showed remarkable speed, running consistently over the distance of two miles and one furlong to take out the rest of the field.
This bodes well for Mullins as the Arkle Chase’s two-mile event caters perfectly to his horse’s strengths. Desert Dynamo is currently the second favorite at 9/2 for those who follow the betting markets.
Third favourite Appreciate it, a thoroughbred from Mullins’ stable, is also in outstanding form. This season has seen strong performances including victories at Punchestown in December and Naas January. Mullins hopes his nine-year old can show a similar performance to last year’s at the same meet, when he won Grade 1 novice hurdle by three and a half lengths from Ballyadam.
The Irish horse’s recent form and his run at Leopardstown have excited punters. He has a short odds of winning 4/1.
The Mullins-trained thoroughbreds will pose the greatest challenges to Jonbon, with El Fabiolo, a six-year-old El Fabiolo being the fourth favorite for the Arkle Novices Chase. This French-bred horse has been steadily improving over the last 12 months. He won three of his last four races, and lost only to Jonbon at Aintree last summer. His recent form could make him a good value bet at 13/2