Jonbon team want run before Cheltenham Festival target

Nicky Henderson is keen to give exciting hurdler Jonbon more experience before the Cheltenham Festival, but is struggling to find a suitable race for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle favourite.

JP McManus’s fledgling star romped to an emphatic Grade Two success at Ascot under Aidan Coleman last month to make it two from two over hurdles.

Having previously shown a tendency to get warm and over-race, Jonbon had shown more maturity and plenty of athletic ability on his second hurdling start, with Coleman making nearly all the running and powering home up the straight.

Frank Berry, McManus’s racing manager, said: “All is very good with Jonbon. It is amazing with all the racing, but Nicky is struggling to find a novice hurdle over two miles to run him in. That is a bit of a problem at the minute.

“I’d say the first two-mile novice coming up, he’ll have a run in it.

“We hope that, by the end of the month or whatever, Nicky will find a race for him, but there is a bit of difficulty finding one.”

Berry revealed that a decision has yet to be taken on which race the Henderson-trained Champ will contest at the Cheltenham Festival.

Champ overcame a 274-day break to land the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot last month – his first run since being pulled up in the Gold Cup, and looked better than ever.

Berry said: “Champ has an entry in the Gold Cup and will have an entry in the Stayers’ Hurdle and I’d say we’ll leave it up to Nicky Henderson nearer the time and see what he wants to do.

“We’ll see how he is in the meantime – he is in good form and he has come out of his race very well and Nicky is happy with him.

“He’s a grand horse and it was nice to see him living up to his name!”

The French-trained Easysland is still on course for the Glenfarclas Chase, despite not being seen since finishing runner-up to Tiger Roll in last season’s renewal.

Trained by David Cottin, Easysland had previously slammed Tiger Roll by 17 lengths in the 2020 edition and remains 4-1 joint-favourite with that rival for the three-and-three-quarter-mile event on March 16.

“Easysland has had a few setbacks but hopefully he is getting there,” said Berry.

“There was nothing substantial, just minor issues, but it just slowed the whole job down with him. Hopefully he will get back on song now.

“You’d like to think he will get back to Cheltenham for the cross country chase and hopefully he will get there. We’ll have to see what happens after that.

“We’ll see if he has a run beforehand, but nothing has been decided yet.”



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