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  • Andy Gibson’S Big Race Review: What Does Jonbon’S Celebration Chase Victory Tell Us?

Andy Gibson’s big race review: What does Jonbon’s Celebration Chase victory tell us?

As we leave another exhilarating National Hunt season behind us, racing analyst Andy Gibson has taken the time to reflect on the select field that contested one of the last big races of the campaign.

Sandown 13:40 April 29 2023

bet365 Celebration Chase: 1 mile 7 furlongs 99 yards (Going: Good)

Five runners lined up for the £91,000 purse, and although all boasted impressive records, the race ended in something of a strung-out procession rather than the thrilling climax that might have been expected, with only Captain Guinness giving eventual winner Jonbon anything to worry about.

Andy dissects the performance of each horse and weighs up their future prospects:


The debate about the ideal distance for Jonbon will no doubt continue after this winning display. His mistake at the fourth fence was serious enough to put him on the back foot towards the rear of the field, from where he did very well to get back into the race and close on the leader approaching the Pond Fence.
He was briefly outpaced and had to be rousted along in between the final two fences before getting on top of the eventual runner-up from just before the final fence until the winning line.
On another day against a better-quality rival, one could see him struggle to cope more obviously over this sort of distance.
The runner-up Captain Guinness proved no match for Energumene at Cheltenham last time out and he was easily held by Blue Lord at Leopardstown the time before that.
On all known form the Henry de Bromhead chaser would have to be considered as being below the top-class two-mile chasers of this generation.
Conversely, it is also possible that his recent form, both here and at Cheltenham has been a significant improvement on his previous best. After all, he has comfortably finished ahead of Greaneteen in each of his latest two starts and would probably have been rated below the Ditcheat horse prior to the Cheltenham Festival.
Equally likely, maybe Greaneteen has simply been out of form, thus offering a potentially false trail as to the apparent improvement shown by Captain Guinness.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of those particular conundrums, the fact remains that Jonbon had to be driven to join Captain Guinness approaching the final fence in the Celebration Chase and will inevitably face one or two more formidable and quicker rivals if kept to two miles next season.

Captain Guinness

This makes it two improved looking displays in a row for the eight-year-old Captain Guinness. The Henry De Bromhead yard has been badly out of form for long periods in recent times and this variable may have played a part in disguising the level of his ability previously.
As a novice he finished a broadly similar distance behind Energumene compared with how he fared against the same horse last time out in the 2023 Champion Chase.
Those two races were run on heavy and then soft ground respectively, so it is possible that he has improved beyond that level here while competing on a more suitable surface.
If we took this line of reasoning on trust then one could argue that there might not be too much between Jonbon and Energumene next season. This in turn would point to El Fabiolo holding a significant edge over both of those horse's next season.
Plenty of water will flow under the bridge before we might need to nail our colours to any particular mast.


For whatever reason, my best guess is that Greaneteen has simply failed to fire in his four races since his seasonal debut success in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter in early December.
He had previously appeared to be extremely well suited to this course and distance so this disappointing display will probably be of most concern to his connections. He retains an elevated rating of 166 which seriously overestimates his current standing based on all four of his latest defeats.
It often takes a lot longer to drop back down the ratings than it does to rise up them. Greaneteen will be a nine-year-old going on ten when we next see him so will presumably be treated more leniently by the handicapper in the coming months assuming he continues to perform to his recent levels.

Editeur Du Gite

I would suggest that the two latest performances of Editeur Du Gite heavily disguise the quality of his previous form. Last time out at Cheltenham he was clearly unsuited by the soft conditions, while here he never played a part in the race after being unusually held up off the pace from the off.
I will be happy to mark him up again the next time he appears to be all set to make the running. He has won his races in the first half of the contest at both Cheltenham and Sandown this season; consequently, being held up off the pace here will have completely negated such an advantage.
I doubt he is quite as good as the best two-mile horses, and at the same time, I am confident that, on his day, he will prove to be a lot better than he has looked in his two most recent racecourse appearances.

Funambule Sivola

Funambule Sivola has yet to achieve anything to suggest he can be competitive at this level, and I remain of the view that he finished as the runner up in the 2022 Champion Chase mainly by default.
Aside from that one race, he has tended to finish well beaten when competing at this sort of level. In the Celebration Chase he had already begun to drop out of contention jumping the first of the Railway Fences.

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