Paul Nicholls: Frodon in Gold Cup mix
Paul Nicholls is confident Frodon can make his presence felt in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The Ditcheat trainer saddled four runners in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, with much of the pre-race attention focusing on the rematch between his dual winner Clan Des Obeaux and the highest-rated chaser in the country Cyrname.
That pair ultimately failed to run up to expectations, and instead the stable’s apparent third string stole the show – making the much of the running under his regular partner Bryony Frost, who became the first female jockey to win the festive highlight.
Despite his victory, Frodon is a 16-1 shot for the Gold Cup, but Nicholls reports his charge to have taken his King George exertions in his stride and insists he is no forlorn hope for steeplechasing’s blue riband at Prestbury Park in March.
He said: “Frodon is mad fresh. When he is like that he is at the top of his game – he is really well.
“Frodon will go straight to the Gold Cup. Bryony rode a brilliant race on him, and he was the best horse on the day.
“No one will expect him to win the Gold Cup – but if he did win it, it would be no surprise (to me).
“Someone said the other day Santini ran the best Gold Cup trial in the King George (finished fifth). But I would beg to differ – Frodon ran the best Gold Cup trial without a shadow of a doubt.
“He loves Cheltenham and loves to be fresh, so it puts him in the mix.”
Clan Des Obeaux had to make do with minor honours in his bid for a King George hat-trick, while Cyrname was pulled up.
Nicholls added: “I’ve got to work out where I go with Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname. But Clan won’t have an entry in the Gold Cup, so that has ruled that out.
“I think we want to go back to riding Cyrname positively. That start at Kempton might not have suited him. He was a bit slow out of the gate, and he got behind a couple, and then it didn’t unfold.
“I think he wants to be ridden a bit more aggressively. When he won the Charlie Hall at Wetherby, he managed to get wide and was tanking along and jumping brilliantly. He wasn’t able to do that the other day.
“He is quite a timid horse at home and always has been. It might just be that he needs to be back ridden positively.
“If Clan had followed Frodon he might have beaten him, but ‘if’ is a big word.”
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