Nicky Henderson-trained Jonbon shows his Cheltenham credentials with impressive jumping lap in hurdles debut win at Newbury
- Jonbon took an impressive win over the hurdles in Newbury on Friday
- He was reduced to 5-1 second favorite for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
- JP McManus paid a record £570,000 for the point-to-pointer 12 months ago
Jonbon showed that his hefty price tag should not be an anchor of unachievable expectations as he headed for a six-length win on his hurdles debut at Newbury on Friday.
The Nicky Henderson-trained gelding was immediately reduced to 5-1 second favorite by the sponsor for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
That was the kind of target owner JP McManus had hoped for when he paid £570,000, a record for a point-to-pointer sold at public auction 12 months ago.
Jonbon made an impressive hurdles debut in Newbury on Friday afternoon
There was a lot of interest in Jonbon because he is a brother of Douvan, the eight-time Grade One winner trained by Willie Mullins.
Jonbon had won a National Hunt Flat race in Newbury in March, when Covid protocols meant there were no crowds at the racecourse.
A tense temperament had led to some nervousness as Aidan Coleman’s mount first encountered obstacles and spectators and the 10-11 favorite was fitted with noise-cancelling earplugs before shoving a useful yardstick into second-place Good Risk At All.
Commenting on news that only Mullins-trained Kilcruit, who won the Grade One bumper at the Punchestown festival in April, was ahead of Jonbon in Supreme betting, Henderson said: “I’m not surprised, that would always happen. His jumping got him there and he was only in second gear.
“He’s Douvan’s brother, so it’s no surprise he has a lot of boot. He was better today, but he was on tiptoe. I’d call him a fidget.”
Henderson’s main focus this afternoon is Epatante’s return in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle in Newcastle.
The winner of the 2020 Champion Hurdle won last season’s Fighting Fifth but she was then defeated by Silver Streak, one of today’s rivals, in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton before being put firmly in her place by Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle from last season and also at the Punchestown Festival .
In the off-season, Epatante was treated for a back problem that Henderson believes has caused her some discomfort.
He said, ‘It looked like this. Her jumping said something. She was brilliant in Newcastle and then it fell apart. Since last year we have ironed out a few things.
“Her back has always been an issue and that’s what we’ve focused on.”
It should be an enlightening weekend for the Champion Hurdle picture, with Honeysuckle making her season debut under Rachael Blackmore in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse as she tries to extend her unbeaten record to 13 races.