Jonbon strengthened his grip at the top of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle market as he took the step up to Graded level in his stride with an effortless win in the Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle (2.20) at Ascot on Friday.
Once again faced with a farcical start, as was the case on his hurdling debut at Newbury, Jonbon was sent to the front with a circuit to go and dominated the race in a foot-perfect display of jumping, with Aidan Coleman barely having to get out of first gear in the Grade 2 contest.
Following his win, most firms shortened the Nicky Henderson-trained star to 5-2 favourite for the Supreme, although William Hill soon cut him to 6-4 from that initial early show.
Jonbon’s win, which maintained his unbeaten record, was a welcome turn in fortune for Henderson, who revealed leading Stayers’ Hurdle contender Buzz had suffered a serious injury on the gallops on Friday morning.
Henderson said: “After the trials and tribulations of this morning it was nice to get that. He’s extraordinarily professional for a horse who has had so little experience.
“He had them off the bridle a long way out off no gallop as his cruising speed is so high. We’ll enjoy today, and I’d say it’d be one run before Cheltenham.
“People will be saying ‘why not run him five times, we want to see him!’ but there’s no point. His whole future is in front of him and we’re getting through the nervous nineties with him now. That’s what today was.”
A £570,000 purchase at the Goffs UK November Sale last year, the five-year-old is a full brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Douvan and further enhanced his already lofty reputation in the Kennel Gate, having eased to success on his hurdling bow at Newbury last month.
Just like on that occasion, none of Jonbon’s rivals were keen to make the running before the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained outsider I Like To Move It set off at a crawling pace before Coleman took matters into his own hands.
As I Like To Move It wilted turning into the home straight, Jonbon’s chief rival Knappers Hill loomed up for a challenge, but was quickly pressurised between the final two flights as Jonbon shot clear.
Irish raider Colonel Mustard stayed on to finish a two and a quarter-length second, while Knappers Hill was a further two and three-quarter lengths back in third.
Courtesy of Racing Post