I don’t mind admitting that I was blown away by the manner of Frodon’s seventeen length victory in the valuable Crest Nicholson Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.
If I’d known he was going to win so impressively I’d have been there to cheer him on rather than attending one of my local point-to-points at Larkhill! Frodon achieved so much last season as a novice that I felt he was likely to struggle this winter. But he has been running consistently well despite a lofty handicap mark and the improvement he displayed at Cheltenham astonished and delighted me. We had been quite kind to him in the autumn but as he’s got stronger we have been able to get him much fitter which is always the case as they get older, and as a six year old, who knows how much he might keep improving.
Once again he jumped very well for Bryony Frost before forging clear up the hill in a way which suggested three miles should not pose a problem for him. We will have to raise our sights with Frodon as I know his new rating will be 164. He is a proper horse going the right way and is already entered in the Ryanair Chase at the Festival but first of all he is likely to head for the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase on February 17.
Warriors Tale come tantalisingly close to completing a double for Team Ditcheat on Saturday in the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster. After jumping into the lead four out he looked all over the winner until he was just caught close home by Wakanda in a tremendous bunch finish after idling in front which he has done before. It was still a really fine effort by Warriors Tale whose turn should come before the end of the season at a flat track like Doncaster, Newbury or Liverpool and will definitely have an entry in the Grand National, a race that could really suit him.
Adrien Du Pont couldn’t quite match Sceau Royal and Shantou Rock in the Grade 2 Novice Chase run at a scorching pace and will be happier stepping back up in trip next time. He will probably be aimed at the Close Brothers Novice Handicap Chase at the Festival.
My trip to Larkhill proved worthwhile with Monsieur Gibraltar, who I own in partnership with Ian Fogg and John Gane, winning nicely for Harriet Tucker who is getting useful experience in point-to-points before riding Pacha Du Polder in Hunter Chases on route to the Foxhunters at Cheltenham again which hopefully will give Harriet a day she’ll never forget – just ask Victoria & Bryony!
This week we will once again be avoiding the worst of the ground with our horses before sending a team to Scotland in search of more suitable conditions at Musselburgh on Saturday and Sunday. In addition the bold jumping Cyrname heads to Sandown on Saturday for the Scilly Isles Novice Chase while Topothegame goes for the £100,000 long distance Handicap Hurdle.
For all the latest news on my weekend runners please be sure to turn to my Betfair column late on Friday afternoon.