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Jonbon sends message to potential Cheltenham rivals as he storms to victory on seasonal reappearance

Jonbon sent a message to his potential Queen Mother Champion Chase rivals following an emphatic nine-and-a-half length victory in the Grade 2 Shloer Chase at Cheltenham on Sunday.

The seven-year-old, whose only two defeats have come at the hands of Constitution Hill and El Fabiolo around the Prestbury Park course, banished his Cheltenham demons with an emphatic performance that justified his 4/9 favourite's tag. The Walk in the Park gelding is bidding to win the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown next month before attempting to shake off his label as a perennial Cheltenham Festival runner-up in March.

And six-time champion trainer Nicky Henderson admitted he was "very pleased" with Jonbon on his seasonal reappearance.

Six-time champion jumps trainer Nicky Henderson
Six-time champion jumps trainer Nicky Henderson

"They went a good gallop and it wasn't a tactical race. It was a sensible, good honest gallop in that ground," he told The Jockey Club’s Graham Clark.

"It was going to find him out first time if he wasn't ready, but he was. You have to be very pleased.

"He was just pricking his ears on the run in and I could see those two great big ears lock on.

"He has had a nice time and he has enjoyed himself. He should come on for it."

Just over half an hour later, Henderson, owner JP McManus and jockey Nico de Boinville were back in the winners' enclosure again after Iberico Lord triumphed in the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, the first time 73-year-old Henderson has won the race.

Having been beaten by stablemate Under Control last time out at Sandown in April, the five-year-old showed considerable improvement as he edged out Jack Quinlan's Lookaway and Luccia, another Seven Barrows resident. And Henderson admits the Cokoriko gelding could be in contention for the Betfair Exchange Trophy.

He said: "Under Control, who is going for the Gerry Feilden at Newbury, beat him at Sandown fair and square and there was no fluke about it.

"I thought he was very good to start with then he fell on his second start for us, then his wind didn't work in his next one and then everything went wrong, but we got him there at the end of the day.

"Going to the last I thought one of you (Luccia or Iberico Lord) please win. They both ran super races.

"It took time for him to get his act together last season. He won a very moderate race at Stratford and it didn't sound like we were heading for the Greatwood Hurdle at that time. The Sandown run was good, but Under Control might be pretty good too.

"JP said he thought the Ascot race would suit Impose Toi, but so it would this horse. One of them will have to go there but as JP said it is a nice problem to solve."

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