El Fabiolo and Jonbon were both successful over the weekend setting up a possible clash in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot (20th January) early in the New Year. The former wasn't hard pressed to account for Fil Dor by nearly five lengths in the Grade 2 Hilly Way Chase at Cork on Sunday. Last season's Arkle winner jumped soundly and never looked in any danger pulling away in the homestraight.
Jonbon was five and a half lengths behind his old rival at Cheltenham in March and, while the Walk In The Park gelding needs to improve to turn the tables on Willie Mullins' runner, he couldn't have made a better start to his second season over fences. A nine and a half lengths winner from Edwardstone in the Grade 2 Shloer Chase at Cheltenham last month, the seven year old defeated the same opponent in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday. The winning margin may not have been quite so emphatic but Nicky Henderson's charge was firmly in charge having momentarily looked in a spot of bother soon after the Pond fence (3 out). They are two high-class two mile chasers and, with the current score being one all between the pair, their third clash is one to look forward to.
Gary Moore had an afternoon to remember on Saturday with an across the card treble which included Le Patron's win in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown. The five year old has made giant strides since switched to the larger obstacles this winter winning all three of his outings, including novice handicap chase victories at Fontwell and Sandown off marks of 113 and 122. Lining up here off a rating of 133, the Balko gelding successfully dropped back to two miles and stayed on strongly to beat Colonel Harry by a length and a quarter. The Sussex handler suggested a return to the Esher track for the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices' Chase (3rd February) is on his agenda.
The French Revolution section in One Jump Ahead unearthed a promising novice hurdler at Thurles recently, namely Daddy Long Legs. The same article was at it again on Saturday when Jigoro (5/2) ran out an impressive nine lengths winner in the opening two miles maiden hurdle at Navan. Trained by Gordon Elliott, the Free Port Lux gelding had shaped encouragingly on his Irish/hurdles debut at Cork last month and confirmed it here with a ready success under Jack Kennedy. Making all, the four year old stretched away after the penultimate flight and his trainer indicated afterwards that he could make a quick reappearance at Limerick over the Festive period. There were some well regarded youngsters trailing in his wake at Navan and he is very much one for the future.
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