- Nico De Boinville is back riding less than a month after breaking his collarbone
- The star jockey has been sidelined since he fell at Doncaster in December
- Trainer Nicky Henderson said De Boinville will tell him when he is fit to race
Nico De Boinville was back riding on Saturday, 15 days after breaking a collarbone, in an attempt to prove his fitness to partner leading two-mile chaser Jonbon in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot next Saturday.
De Boinville has been sidelined since he fell at Doncaster on December 29.
Nicky Henderson’s No1 jockey has ridden Jonbon to his two wins this season — the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in November and Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown last month — himself inheriting the mount on the JP McManus-owned gelding from Aidan Coleman after he was sidelined with a serious knee injury since last summer.
Henderson, who hinted that James Bowen — who has been deputising for De Boinville — could take the ride should his colleague lose his race to be fit, said: ‘Nico rode out three horses this morning. He says he is great. He has been in the gym proving to the world he can pick up things.
‘Nico will not tell us he is fit to ride if he isn’t, so let’s see how he is. He has to pass doctors and they are the ones who call the tune. Nico can say he is fine but it doesn’t mean the medics will say he is, but I hope for his sake that he is.
Nico De Boinville was back riding on Saturday, 15 days after breaking a collarbone
De Boinville has been sidelined since he fell at Doncaster on December 29
‘But we are covered. James has been doing great. We’re ready for all eventualities.’ Jonbon is due to face Willie Mullins-trained El Fabiolo at Ascot in a heavyweight clash.
The pair dominate the betting for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Henderson and Bowen were successful with Gentle Slopes at Kempton yesterday where the outstanding performance came from Joseph O’Brien-trained Banbridge, who beat Pic D’Orhy by a length and three-quarters in the Silviniaco Conti Chase.
Given JJ Slevin-ridden Banbridge is at his best away from testing ground, this wet winter has not been to his advantage and several intended targets had been bypassed. Yesterday’s run was the eight-year-old’s first start since he won the Grade One Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree in April last year.
Banbridge is now 5-1 second favourite for the Ryanair Chase at the Festival behind Allaho (11-4) and Slevin said: ‘He was a really good horse last season but we felt he had strengthened up a bit.
‘He was a little bit rusty. Hopefully that will have blown away the cobwebs.’ The race was marred by the fatal last-fence fall of Laura Morgan-trained Notlongtillmay.
Speaking to ITV, the tearful trainer said: ‘It’s absolutely horrendous, he didn’t deserve that. He just took a nasty fall at the last and broke his shoulder. He’s been our stable star and it’s so upsetting. It will leave a massive hole in the yard.’
Nicky Henderson’s No1 jockey has ridden Jonbon to his two wins this season
Paul Nicholls introduced an exciting juvenile hurdler at Kempton in French import Kalif Du Berlais, who is part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson.
He earned ante-post quotes for the Triumph Hurdle, but Nicholls is reluctant to send the imposing gelding to the race.
He said: ‘He was bought to be a chaser so we need to mind him.’ Training honours for the day went to Dan Skelton, who had six winners.
He had two at Kempton with Flegmatik and Jay Jay Reilly, in the Lanzarote Hurdle, two at Warwick with Etalon and Grey Dawning, and two at Wetherby thanks to Mount Tempest and Santos Blue.