Sporting Life Arkle: Trainer quotes

Jonbon gets a chance to emulate his brother Douvan and win the Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy when he takes on El Fabiolo in a powerhouse on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

The duo fought a thriller about hurdles at Aintree last year, where Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old edged out by a narrow margin to earn compensation for being crushed by Constitution Hill in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle a few weeks earlier.

This reversal of Prestbury Park remains Jonbon‘s only loss and he quickly rocketed to the top of the Arkle bets with an ultra-professional performance in the Warwick pursuit debut.

A first Grade One over the major obstacles quickly followed as he passed Henry VIII’s Novices’ Chase at Sandown in fine fashion before returning to Warwick last month to add the Kingmaker to his CV.

Though far from perfect in this two-runner tuning mission, Henderson admits he still has work to do and believes the Arkle’s guaranteed fast pace will play to his protégé’s strengths.

“We see Warwick as a good wake up call for him, he’s going to be sharper,” said the Seven Barrows’ handler.

“He had a good shot and although he looked fantastic he looked ready to go to the show ring – not the track – and I think he just needed it more than he expected.

“It wasn’t pretty to look at. He jumped very well and eventually got faster and he did well – as he should have done to be fair, how he should have beaten that horse (Calico) comfortably.

‘They will do a good canter in the Arkle and that should suit him. So I was very interested in him getting a lead (at Warwick).

“He’s up there with my other Arkle winners. I know Constitution Hill beat him pretty far but other than that he was very good.”

Douvan famously sauntered to a seven-length run over future Gold Cup winner Sizing John in 2016, but the Henderson-trained brother might not find things so easy when he takes on the power of Closutton.

Willie Mullins’ challenge is led by the impressive Irish Arkle winner El Fabiolowho, despite being only 9-2 in the betting at Leopardstown, was the only runner to match the breakneck factions of Danny Mullins aboard Dysart Dynamo to finish 10 lengths clear of the competition.

He now has a familiar opponent to reverse his form with, but Mullins feels he has every chance to turn the tables.

He said: “El Fabiolo did everything right (at Leopardstown) and his run against Jonbon last year puts him perfectly in the picture I think.

“It was only his second run for us and Jonbon was in his own backyard while we had to travel to England so he’s going there with a big chance.”

Dysart dynamo is back engaged and sure to lead the field as the former County Hurdle winner and last year’s Champion Hurdle finish third Holy Roi is another for the Closutton squad.

The Mullins quartet is complete Hello, during Gordon Elliott’s hollow games and the likeable mare by Cian Collins Effernock Fizz others make the trip from Ireland.

Sheila Lewis’ course and distance winner straw fan lifter returns from a 109 day absence to take his chance at Grade One Level with Samuel Drinkwater’s Chepstow winner ball breeze the likely outsider of nine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *