By HRI Foreign Staff — This year’s Arkle Trophy will see two of the hottest novice chasers clash on day one of the Cheltenham Festival. El Fabiolo and Jonbon have both impressed in their opening campaigns over fences.
The winner of this year’s novice contest could go on to be the leading star in the 2m division next season, with the Queen Mother Champion Chase being their number one target at the end of the campaign.
Although there are other talented novices in the race, it is being labelled as a match-up between the Grade One winners. Both of the unbeaten chasers have proved themselves at the highest level already.
El Fabiolo is the 11/8 favourite in the Cheltenham Festival betting for the Arkle. The Irish horse will be looking to give his trainer his fifth success in the race, replicating what the likes of Un de Sceaux and Douvan both achieved.
The Irish horse has won both of his assignments over fences this season. He started out at Fairyhouse where he won the race by 19 lengths, beating four other rivals on his chase debut.
Willie Mullins’ runner stepped up in class at the Dublin Racing Festival to land the Grade 1 Irish Arkle with an impressive winning margin of 10 lengths. He stretched away from the rest of the field after the last fence in that race.
The former French raider will be making his first appearance at the Cheltenham Festival this year. He missed the meeting in 2022, as his connections favoured the Grand National Meeting a month later for their horse due to his lack of experience.
Jonbon Has Jumped Well in His Novice Chase Campaign Source: Pixabay
In the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2022, Jonbon proved no match for his stablemate Constitution Hill. But after the way the unbeaten hurdler has shone this season, that second-place finish is looking even better now.
Jonbon has had three appearances over fences this season, and he has prevailed in each of those. Such is the confidence in his ability, he started out at Warwick, a racecourse known for having some of the stiffest fences in the UK. Nicky Henderson’s runner defeated Monmiral in that race in an eye-catching chase debut.
The Seven Barrows runner featured in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown on just his second appearance over fences. He jumped well in that contest, making all the running at the Esher-based racecourse. The performance impressed his trainer, who confirmed he was set for the Arkle later in the campaign.
In his final run before Cheltenham, Jonbon had just one rival to beat at Warwick in the Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices’ Chase. Although facing one horse was not ideal, it was the chance for the unbeaten chaser to gain more experience in a competitive race over fences.
The 2023 Arkle Trophy takes place on the 14th of March. At the latest declaration stage, 22 runners remain in the race. The final field will be revealed on the 12th of March at the final declaration for the 2m contest.