With the race now being just a matter of days away (the race is taking place on the day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival), it looks increasingly likely that Frodon will earn another crack at Ryanair Chase victory, with trainer Paul Nicholls having confirmed the news over the weekend. The seven-year-old has recorded back to back wins at Cheltenham, winning both the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase and BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase either side of the new year. While a run in Friday’s feature race, the Gold Cup, had been mooted by many, it now appears that Frodon will appear in the Ryanair Chase for the second year running.
Jockey Bryony Frost has developed a fantastic relationship with Frodon over recent times, leading him to four wins since December 2017. Trainer Nicholls confirmed the Ryanair Chase “as the right race for him” over the weekend, despite being left in the frame for a place in the Gold Cup until Saturday. With some big names having dropped out of Thursday’s race, Frodon now has a good chance of victory, although the likes of Footpad, Min and Un De Sceaux remain ahead of him in the betting odds.
A rating of 169, the same as Might Bite when he finished second in the Gold Cup in 2018, means that Frodon certainly has what it takes to challenge, while the form shown at Cheltenham this season should also mean that he receives a significant backing from punters. Nicholls went on to add that Frodon will “love the track and he’ll get the trip very strongly, so that’s what we’re thinking.
Frodon still has plenty of time for a crack at the Gold Cup, with trainer Nicholls already having a good contender for the race with King George VI winner Clan Des Obeaux. The seven-year-old has two consecutive victories to his name, having finished narrowly ahead of Thistlecrack at Kempton on Boxing Day, before winning easily at Ascot in mid-February. Nicholls has stated that he has no worries over the stamina of Clan Des Obeaux, with the weather likely to have a more significant effect upon his chances
Nicholls claimed the 3,000th win of his career in February, before claiming the 100th win of the season just a matter of weeks later. The 10-time Champion trainer may be going through something of a transitional period, however the likes of Frodon and Clan Des Obeaux have him feeling excited ahead of the Cheltenham Festival. Elsewhere, the likes of Grand Sancy, Friend Or Foe, Topofthegame and Magic Saint are the other big hopes for Nicholls, who has had to leave Cyrname at home due to his preference for right-handed tracks.