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Jonbon and El Fabiolo set to meet in Clarence House Chase

12 Jan 2024
Jon Vine 12 Jan 2024
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  • Racing News ahead of the 2024 Clarence House Chase
  • Jonbon is a likely runner in this Grade One at Ascot
  • Champion Chase favourite, El Fabiolo is also pencilled in to run
Aidan Coleman riding Jonbon (R) clear the last to win The Betway Top Novices' Hurdle from El Fabiolo and Paul Townend (L) at Aintree. (Getty)

The favourites for the 2024 Champion Chase will meet at Ascot next weekend, when El Fabiolo and Jonbon lock horns for a third time.

A similarly seismic showdown took place in the 2022 Clarence House Chase, when Shishkin and Energumene went head-to-head. Shishkin managed to come out on top on that occasion, but it was Energumene who claimed Champion Chase glory that season, before successfull defending his crown at Cheltenham the following spring.

Jonbon and El Fabiolo first met over hurdles at Aintree in 2022, with Jonbon claiming a narrow victory. El Fabiolo turned the tables on his rival when they met in the Arkle Challenge Trophy at Cheltenham last season and it's Willie Mullins' star who currently tops the Champion Chase betting.

After that defeat, many expected Jonbon to be stepped up in distance, to avoid another clash with El Fabiolo. Nicky Henderson, however, had other ideas. After bouncing back to top form at Aintree, Jonbon won the Celebration Chase at the end of his novice campaign. This season, Jonbon has registered impressive victories in the Shloer Chase and the Tingle Creek, setting up this mouth-watering showdown with El Fabiolo at Ascot.

Frank Berry, racing manager to Jonbon's owner JP McManus, spoke to the press on Thursday and confirmed that the Clarence House was still the plan.

"The horse is in great form, Nicky is very happy with him and we're all looking forward to the race," said Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus.

"It should be a cracking race and we're looking forward to it."

Berry also revealed that riding plans for Jonbon are yet to be confirmed. Aidan Coleman remains sidelined through injury. Nico De Boinville, who has ridden Jonbon on both starts this term, is also confined to the treatment table. James Bowen has been deputising for De Boinville in recent weeks and he would be the bookie's favourite to take the ride.

El Fabiolo has only been seen once this season, running out an easy winner of the Hilly Way Chase at Cork in November. Willie Mullins' raider will likely top the betting for Ascot, when the entries are declared, but given Jonbon's improvement this season, there will be little to separate the Champion Chase contenders.

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