Nico De Boinville Returns for Clarence House Chase at Ascot
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Nico De Boinville Returns for Clarence House Chase at Ascot

Nico De Boinville Returns to Riding After Collarbone Break, Aiming for Clarence House Chase at Ascot

Jockey Nico De Boinville was back in the saddle on Saturday, just 15 days after breaking his collarbone. His return comes as he aims to prove his fitness and partner leading two-mile chaser Jonbon in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot next Saturday.

De Boinville has been sidelined since his fall at Doncaster on December 29. As Nicky Henderson’s No. 1 jockey, he has ridden Jonbon to the horse’s two wins this season – the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in November and the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown last month.

“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,” the trainer said.

Henderson acknowledged that should De Boinville fail to prove his fitness, James Bowen, who has been deputizing in his absence, could take the ride on Jonbon. “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.”

Jonbon is set to face Willie Mullins-trained El Fabiolo in a heavyweight clash at the Clarence House Chase, with the pair dominating the betting for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Elsewhere on the card, 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 at Kempton. The eight-year-old is now 5-1 second favorite for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival behind Allaho.

The day was marred by the fatal last-fence fall of Notlongtillmay, trained by Laura Morgan, who said it was “absolutely horrendous” and that the horse “didn’t deserve that.”

Paul Nicholls also introduced an exciting juvenile hurdler in French import Kalif Du Berlais, part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, but the trainer is reluctant to send the imposing gelding to the Triumph Hurdle, saying “He was bought to be a chaser so we need to mind him.”

Overall, it was a day of highs and lows at Ascot Racecourse, with the focus shifting to the upcoming Clarence House Chase and the Royal Ascot 2023 dates.

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