Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle: Jonbon all set to light up Ascot Christmas Racing Weekend on Friday | Racing News

Jonbon will make his next Ascot appearance on Friday as he leads the training for the Howden Kennel Gate Novice Obstacle, live on Sky Sport Racing.

Already a favorite for the supreme novice hurdle at Cheltenham in March, the five-year-old carries the weight of high expectations as he is the full brother of superstar hunter Willie Mullins Douvan and won his only point-to-point start for 15 lengths last November.

Purchased by JP McManus for a record £ 570,000, the Walk In The Park gelding was then relocated to Nicky Henderson’s Lambourn yard and has since raced in a beginner bumper and hurdle, winning both by a comfortable margin.

The Grade Two Kennel Gate represents a step up in caliber, but one that the bay has a right to make based on its previous shape.

“That’s the plan,” said Fran Berry, McManus racing manager.

“Nicky said he would come out well from the last race and we can’t wait to see him race there.

“He did it right on the last day, he’ll be in so let’s hope he can go and do something similar on Friday.”

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Nico de Boinville and Jonbon gallop at the racecourse in Newbury

Berry also confirmed that Epatante, another Henderson-trained runner owned by McManus, is on track for the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle in Kempton on Boxing Day.

The mare started her season with a tied win in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle in Newcastle last month, a win she shared with Hughie Morrison’s Not So Sleepy after the judge deemed the two inseparable when they crossed the finish line.

Epatante, left, and Not So Sleepy, right, hit the line together in Fighting Fifth in Newcastle
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Epatante, left, and Not So Sleepy, right, hit the line together in Fighting Fifth in Newcastle

That triumph was his second success in Fighting Fifth and he will now be aiming for two Christmas Hurdle titles, having won the race in 2019 on the road to Champion Hurdle glory a few months later.

“She’s fine, she came out (Fighting Fifth) very well and Nicky is very happy with her,” Berry said.

“The very plan is to go there (Kempton).”

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