Aintree Grand National Festival News: Jonbon shows El Fabiolo who Top Novice is

Nicky Henderson's Jonbon showed Willie Mullins' El Fabiolo who's boss in the Betway Top Novices' Hurdle but it was a very close affair at Aintree.

Nicky Henderson's Jonbon just about proved the doubters wrong with a dogged win in the Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree as he fended off a strong challenge from Willie Mullins' El Fabiolo to win by a neck.

Jonbon's jockey Aidan Coleman spoke passionately about his mount sweating up as being irrelevant as the rider celebrated another top win on Merseyside.

Coleman had Jonbon well placed in third throughout with Salamanca Bay taking up the running in the two miles half a furlong Grade 1.

Yet after the Jonathan Fogarty trained Salamanca Bay unseated his rider, the heat turned into a drag race between evens favourite Jonbon and 4/1 chance El Fabiolo.

Jonbon showed his class and grit to stretch to a neck win from El Fabiolo with Gordon Elliott's 14/1 shot Vina Ardanza 19 lengths back in third.

On a sunny day at Aintree, Jonbon got Grade 1 favourite backers off to a winning start but they were made to sweat as much as Jonbon by El Fabiolo who looks one to watch after only one previous win at Tramore.

On the win, Henderson said: "It's not a consolation prize, but he deserves it because he's done nothing wrong all year except bump into what could be an extraordinary horse who luckily lives in the same place!

"From my point of view it was rather less painful (at Cheltenham) than it was for the Jonbon team. It's great to have two horses like that. They're very, very exciting - you couldn't have better.

"It was a very good race today and there's no doubt the second horse is a very good horse - they were a long way clear of the rest.

"Jonbon has had it fairly easy up until today and that is the first time he's really had to put his head down and fight for it - and he jolly well did. You have to admire him for the way he battled.

"He's had a great campaign. Constitution Hill was the only horse that could lower his colours and you can't really take that out on him and he's finished up getting his Grade One here, which is great.

"He's a big horse and his future probably lies over fences - I would have thought he'll be novice chasing next season.

"He'd get further that two miles, I'm sure. We had him in the two-and-a-half-mile races both at Cheltenham and here, but we always felt we could stay at two for now."

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