Horse Racing

El Fabiolo wins the Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase

El Fabiolo overcomes Jonbon to win a pulsating Arkle on day one of the Cheltenham Festival… with the 11-10 favourite holding on after a frantic finish that saw Dysart Dynamo fall

  • Paul Townend’s El Fabiolo triumphed in Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase 
  • The 11-10 favourite saw off Jonbon in a frantic finish at Cheltenham Festival
  • Click here for the latest Cheltenham Festival news, schedule and race results

El Fabiolo got the better of Jonbon in the Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy, to get Willie Mullins and Paul Townend off the mark at the Cheltenham Festival.

The duo fought out a titanic battle over hurdles at Aintree last season and the rematch was just as entertaining, with the main protagonists coming to the fore in the closing stages.

Discussing his win on board El Fabiolo, Townend said: ‘He’s learning to settle better these days and he would have no issue going up in trip. However, if he keeps winning over two miles, he’ll probably stay at two!’ 

Aidan Coleman, rider of the runner-up Jonbon, said: ‘He wasn’t as push button on that type of ground as he is on good ground. 

‘My lad is a jockey’s dream and I’d have no issue taking the winner again as I retain all my faith in him.’ 

El Fabiolo – ridden by Paul Townend – won a frantic race at the Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase to see off Jonbon at the final stretch

2-1 rated horse Jonbon narrowly came second in the second race of Cheltenham Festival 

Dysart Dynamo took up his customary position setting the pace at the head of proceedings, with both Aidan Coleman aboard Jonbon and Townend on El Fabiolo content to stalk the front-runner as Danny Mullins led the field along with his usual zest.

Jonbon crept on Dysart Dynamo’s tail heading down country to three out and was soon angled out to press the Closutton second string. But Townend bided his time aboard the 11-10 favourite, only moving El Fabiolo into contention rounding the home bend.

From then the powerhouse clash all at Prestbury Park had been waiting for ensued as the big three matched strides from two out to the last and when Dysart Dynamo fell at the final fence, El Fabiolo was still full of running and confirmed the promise of his hugely impressive performance from the Dublin Racing Festival.

He was five and a half lengths clear of Nicky Henderson’s 2-1 second-favourite at the line, with Closutton stablemate Saint Roi staying on to pick up third at 11-1.

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