Fabulous Frodon puts heat in Frost's winter
Bryony Frost lit up a raw winter's afternoon when she guided Frodon to what may turn out to be one of the best weight-carrying performances of the season in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham yesterday.
Leading nearly all the way and this time dictating terms to Baron Alco, which had beaten him last month in the Betvictor Gold Cup, Frodon - with 11st 12lb on board - put his rivals under pressure with a superb exhibition of jumping and the 7/1 shot sealed his second victory in this race with another exuberant leap at the second last.
Cepage stayed on up the hill to narrow the gap to a length and a quarter but there were 15 lengths back to last year's winner Guitar Pete, while Baron Alco kept on for fourth after finally being cracked by Frodon's tactics at the top of the hill where Mr Medic - the winner's biggest threat at the time - ploughed through the fourth last.
Horses certainly jump for Frost, 23, and her post-race debrief is always entertaining. "He's a complete pleasure to ride," she said. "I've got to thank the owners and Paul [Nicholls] for keeping me on him in the Betvictor when I lost my claim. That was a huge confidence booster for me and I wanted to give him the success he deserved after finishing second there.
"Every time you get to a fence you feel his heart skip and he's thinking, 'I got that one, I am the boss aren't I?' And I go, 'Yes, you are the boss, Frodon'. Winning a race like that you feel relief, excitement. And proud, that's the one you feel the most."
Frodon is still only six and won this race as a four-year-old but he will step back out of handicaps at this season's Festival to run in the Ryanair Chase. "I just felt he was staying on strongly at the end of the Betvictor so told Bryony not to be afraid of putting Baron Alco under pressure," said Nicholls. "We'll train him for the Ryanair and work backwards."
The Unibet International Hurdle offered several horses a chance of redemption and it was Brain Power, back after a mixed season chasing, which took it. He hung on to win by a length and three quarters from Silver Streak.
"It was totally his owner Michael Buckley's call to send him back over hurdles, so well done to him," said trainer Nicky Henderson.
The New One, going for a record fourth win in the race and the winner of 20 of his 40 starts, was pulled up at the last and retired by Nigel Twiston-Davies. "Where do I find another like him?" asked the trainer emotionally.
Aidan Coleman was the head waiter at Doncaster's pre-Christmas meeting as he delivered a last-gasp double on Equus Amadeus and O O Seven. Neither horse was in front at the final obstacle, but both were produced with precision to provide cheer for ardent racegoers on a chilly Town Moor.
Go Conquer looked all over the winner as he took the last fence in the concluding bet365 Handicap Chase, but Coleman came knocking on the Nicky Henderson-trained O O Seven (11/8 favourite), which hit the front 50 yards from home to snatch the verdict by half a length.
"I knew I'd finish. He got a bit out-paced up Rose Hill and from then it's one of those tracks that once you keep galloping, you've got a chance," said Coleman.