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Jonbon confirmed his supremacy of the two mile division in the UK with a comfortable victory in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park on Saturday.
Despite illustrious stablemates Shishkin and Constitution Hill being withdrawn from their engagement in the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle earlier on the card, Jonbon's participation was never in doubt with trainer Nicky Henderson confirming: "I was never worried about running him compared to the other guys because the chase course is generally just soft winter ground."
In a field of four, Jonbon was always travelling well in the hands of jockey Nico De Boinville and jumped into the lead between the second-last and final fence, staying on well in the closing stages to secure a two-and-three-quarter length victory over Edwardstone.
The result never appeared in doubt, despite a bold bid by Haddex Des Obeaux and Henderson was pleased with the progress of his star chaser: "He is growing up all the time. We had a gallop at Windsor believe it or not earlier in the year and he had a little away day at Newbury. He got himself very geed up in those sort of preps, but by the time he got to Cheltenham the other day he had travelled well in the horsebox, and he settled well here. He is not sweating anymore, and he is growing up on that front.
"It was always going to be tough in this ground. Rightly, we said hang on to him for as long as possible today because that is the sort of ground you could get caught out on. The horse loves to really attack, but it was essential to try and keep your powder a bit dry today. It was the plan to hang on to him a bit longer than you might do in other circumstances. He is an attacker, and you can really let him rip, but that would be a bit dangerous in these conditions.
"He is jumping very well this season. He was a novice last season when he was taking on the very old professional chasers. Today he has grown up now to being a senior and he is doing that well.
"When you are 30-100 on you are quite pleased when it is over. He is very good. These games are not easy to play in this sort of ground. It was a good honest gallop and his jumping was good and it was proper Sandown two-mile chasing, just in very slow ground which was tough for them all.
"A class horse can handle everything, so they tell me. I've always thought he would be a better horse on better ground as he moves so well.
"Possibly he wasn't at his best at Cheltenham last season (when beaten for the only time over fences in the Sporting Life Arkle), but take nothing away from El Fabiolo, and we have got a fair bit to find, but we did beat him a head in a Grade One hurdle the season before so it is one all. We will be watching him carefully tomorrow no doubt.
"I can't see that they will meet on the way, and I don't think we will be going to Ireland and I'm rather hoping Willie (Mullins) will play the same game as us and we will get ready for a rematch in March.
"There was a time last season that I thought he wanted further, but to be fair even since then he has shown us he is a two-miler so I think we have to stick to that plan.
"I'm surprised as after Cheltenham last season I was sure he wanted two and a half, but as it has planned out we have got stuck at two miles and that is where we are pigeon-holed for now.
"The obvious ones in the meantime are the Game Sprit and Clarence House then we will meet him (El Fabiolo) in March."
The victory represented a second win in the race for jockey Nico de Boinville, having previously taken the contest with Henderson ace Altior in 2018. In an interview with ITV Racing, de Boinville said: "He was an absolute superstar today on ground that would be more testing than ideal.
"It was a tough one – I didn't want to commit but I didn't want to disappoint him over those fences because he was jumping so well. I thought he was electric over the Railway Fences today, probably because the ground is a bit better there.
"I'm delighted with him. He came out of the Shloer in great form and Paddy who rides him every day said he was in great form, so it was all systems go for today.
"He handled the ground well, which we always imagined he would. It did take a race-hardened horse to go and win round there today.
"Even if he gets in tight to his fences, he is very quick. If I say go and he says no, he is still quick away from them.
"That was fantastic and fingers crossed he is A1 in the morning. There is lots to look forward to. Let's see what El Fabiolo does on Sunday!"