With an incredible resume that includes seven Arkle Challenge Trophies, trainer Nicky Henderson is unmatched when it comes to the leading minimum-distance chase for novices in the National Hunt calendar. His best hope of adding yet another trophy to his laundry list of silverware is Jonbon, who’s the early favourite with those who bet on horse racing to reign supreme at the Grade 1 Cheltenham Festival fixture.

It’s easy to see why the seven-year-old is garnering so much hype, with him victorious in eight of his nine starts under rules, with his only blemish coming at Cheltenham last year when he finished second behind stablemate and arguably the best horse in jumps racing today – Constitution Hill.

“I don’t think I’ve a better candidate,” he said of Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up Jonbon, who followed up in a Grade 1 at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.

“Without Constitution Hill he’d have been a good Supreme winner, but he backed it up at Aintree. That was a good performance and he’s strengthened up enormously too.”

Despite his loss, the French-bred horse returned strong just a month later in the Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree to defeat the Willie Mullins-trained El Fabiolo by a neck. With subsequent victories this season at Warwick and Sandown by seven and eight lengths respectively – Jonbon is in sublime form and will prove hard to beat at Cheltenham.

He won’t be without his fair share of competition however, with an extremely strong field expected to line up alongside him. With that in mind, read on as we take a look at the horses who could deny Henderson his eighth Arkle triumph.

Dysart Dynamo

This seven-year-old has had a strong career to date, registering five wins in seven starts – of which includes dominant victories at Cork, Punchestown and Leopardstown, by 19 lengths (x2) and 28 lengths respectively. The Mullins-trained thoroughbred was particularly impressive in his most recent outing, displaying consistent speed over the two-mile and one furlong distance to destroy the remainder of the field.

That bodes well for Mullins, with the two-mile affair in the Arkle Chase catering perfectly to his horse’s strengths. For those following the betting markets, Desert Dynamo currently sits as the second favourite at 9/2.

Appreciate It

Another thoroughbred in Mullins’ stable in exceptional form is third favourite Appreciate It, who takes in strong performances this season that includes triumphs at Punchestown and Naas in December and January respectively. Mullins will be hoping his nine-year-old can put forth a similar display to the one he had at the same meet last year, where he won the Grade 1 novice hurdle by three-and-a-half lengths from Ballyadam. 

That run at Leopardstown coupled with his recent form has excited punters, with the Irish horse garnering short odds of 4/1.

El Fabiolo

It appears as though all of Jonbon’s biggest challenges will come from Mullins-trained thoroughbreds, with the fourth favourite for the Arkle Novices’ Chase being six-year-old El Fabiolo. The French-bred horse has found his feet over the past 12 months, winning three of his last four, with his only defeat coming at the hands of Jonbon at Aintree last year. Given his recent form, he could prove to be a value bet at 13/2.