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El Fabiolo swoops late to win the Arkle Trophy.

Willie Mullins and Paul Townend started off strong at the Cheltenham Festival when El Fabiolo defeated Jonbon in the Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy.

Last season, the pair engaged in a titanic battle over hurdles at Aintree. The rematch was just as entertaining, with the main protagonists coming to the fore in the final stages.

Dysart Dynamo set the pace as usual at the front of the race, with Aidan Coleman aboard Jonbon and Townend aboard El Fabiolo content to follow the front-runner while Danny Mullins led the field with his usual enthusiasm.

When Dysart Dynamo was going down country to three out, Jonbon sneaked up on his tail and was soon angled out to press the Closutton second string. However, El Fabiolo only entered the race when Townend rode the 11-10 favorite around the home turn.

When Dysart Dynamo fell at the last fence, El Fabiolo was still full of running and confirmed the promise of his hugely impressive performance from the Dublin Racing Festival. From that point on, the powerhouse clash that everyone at Prestbury Park had been waiting for took place as the big three matched strides from two out to the last.

At the finish, he was five and a half lengths ahead of Nicky Henderson’s second-favorite, who was 2-1. Saint Roi, a stablemate of Closutton, stayed on to finish third at 11-1.

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