Jonbon established himself as a serious horse for the future when powering to a six-length success in the Play Ladbrokes 5-A-Side On Football National Hunt Maiden Hurdle at Newbury.
Plenty was expected of the full brother to Douvan and the Nicky Henderson-trained five-year-old did not disappoint.
Aidan Coleman settled Jonbon (10-11 favourite) early, but it did not take long for his slick hurdling to pull him to the front and he barely got out of second gear with an authoritative performance to beat Good Risk At All with ease.
So impressed were Paddy Power that the bookmakers slashed Jonbon to 3-1 favourite from 6-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Henderson said: “The point-to-points are amazing, because there are two-milers and slow horses who are very good. I had a horse called Get Real, who never got a yard over two miles and somehow, someone managed to hold him in a point-to-point.
“This is the same sort of thing. He is a full brother to Douvan, so it is not surprising he has plenty of boot. You see the benefit of a racecourse gallop – that is why he cantered around on his own. He was better today.
“He can get on his toes. I call him a fidget, but that’s why we get on quite well together. He doesn’t do anything wrong. He wants to be on his toes and he got a bit warm coming here, but it was great that it was Newbury, as it wasn’t too far to travel. But he will travel – he’ll have to.
“We will take it step by step and see where we want to go. From JP’s (McManus), Aidan’s and AP’s (McCoy) point of view, he was only in second gear.”
He went on: “We had to teach him to drop the bit today and he dropped it really nicely, considering there was no gallop. He only got in front because he jumped his way there.”
Stage Star made it two from two over hurdles and justified 2-7 favouritism, making virtually all the running in the Watch Racing Free Online at Ladbrokes Novices’ Hurdle.
Harry Cobden’s mount never looked in any trouble as he set a modest gallop in the extended two-and-a-half-mile event and then strode out nicely, despite a minor error at the penultimate flight, to score by seven and a half lengths.
Unanswered Prayers briefly threatened to challenge, before readily being burned off.
Stage Star was subsequently cut to 14-1 (from 25-1) with Coral for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
With winning trainer Paul Nicholls absent, assistant Harry Derham was full of praise for the five-year-old son of Fame And Glory.
He said: “He has done everything right today, did it as we thought he would and we will probably come back here for the Challow Hurdle in December.
“He obviously had very good bumper form and he was always going to improve for jumping hurdles, the size of him.
“It is just a nice route to go. When you have a high-class bumper horse like that, we always wanted to have a couple of runs to go to the Challow and he’s done it right, albeit against opposition that he should have beaten. But we’ll come back for the Challow and find out a bit more about him.
“I don’t think winter ground will bother him that much. I don’t think any of our horses want deep ground, but good horses generally cope with most things.”
Venetia Williams has always thought plenty of Fanion D’Estruval (2-1 favourite). She pitched him in better company last season and again on his seasonal bow when fourth in a Grade Two chase at Aintree.
Setting his sights a little lower this time, he scored with authority under Charlie Deutsch in the two-and-a-half-mile Get Your Ladbrokes £1 Free Bet Today Handicap Chase.
Williams said: “We threw him in at the deep end in Graded races last season and he was struggling. We have done a lot of work on his schooling and it is nice to bring him back. Top weight is fine, but this is a slightly lesser grade.
“It is lovely to see him win, and win going away. We don’t necessarily have to put him back in Graded company yet. He is still a young horse (aged six) and there is still more to come.”
Not Available sprang something of a shock in landing the Ladbrokes Daily Odds Boosts Chase (Novices’ Limited Handicap) for the Fulke Walwyn Trophy.
The Matt Shepherd-trained six-year-old, who was a purchase out of Henry De Bromhead’s yard at the Doncaster Sales in September, was sent off a 14-1 chance, but belied those odds and showed plenty of determination under the trainer’s son, Stan, to defeat Solo by two and three-quarter lengths.
Matt Shepherd said: “That was super because, obviously, when you son rides your winner, it is about as good as it gets.
“The horse is a bit of a special character. He gives you no feel at home and doesn’t pick up the bridle in any shape or form, but I’m a great believer in that if a horse is slow at home, it does not mean to say they are not two-milers. I was convinced he was a two-miler and was convinced the better the race, the better he would run.
“I haven’t got a plan yet, but the better the race, the better he will run. We’ll probably celebrate – it’s going to be a messy weekend!”
The concluding three-mile Play Ladbrokes 1-2-Free On Football Handicap Hurdle produced the finish of the afternoon, with the Philip Hobbs-trained Dolphin Square (6-1) making it five wins from 12 runs over hurdles, getting the better of Flemcara and Eyeofthescorpion.
David Maxwell produced a power-packed finish to gain the spoils by a neck.