Frodon delivered the best Christmas present of all with a heart warming victory from the front in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
With four runners in the line up I was hopeful of gaining a twelfth success in the historic Grade 1 race that I always like to target. I don’t mind admitting it was a brilliant surprise to see Frodon dominate the field from flag fall because I thought I had better chances with Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname.
They both underperformed for some reason with Cyrname appearing to sulk in behind horses before dropping out while Clan did amazingly well to stay on into third place from an unpromising position a mile from home.
In contrast Frodon produced a career best with the help of a superb ride from Bryony Frost who gets such a great tune from him. I had a long chat with Bryony on Christmas Day and encouraged her to be positive from flag fall.
We all know that Frodon is hard to peg back if he gets free on the lead and she judged it to perfection, was in charge throughout and they never going to be caught in the last half mile. It was wonderful to watch.
The icing on the cake for Bryony is that this terrific victory made her the most successful female jump jockey of all time in Britain with 175 winners, one more than Lucy Alexander.
Frodon stays well as he proved when winning the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham and he will now go straight to the Gold Cup in March. That gives me plenty of time to give him a little break before freshening him up ahead of the big day.
I’ll see how Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname come out of Kempton before firming up plans for them after discussions with their owners. Things didn’t go to plan for either of them and we made the decision in the spring that we wouldn’t be taking Clan back to Cheltenham for another crack at the Gold Cup. He could maybe run in either the Denman Chase or Ascot Chase before heading to Aintree or possibly Punchestown. Cyrname needs to be ridden more aggressively wherever he goes next.
Christmas morning saw Team Ditcheat at its best with 42 horses ridden out in one lot first thing. Everyone involved is playing their part in a stellar season for the yard and the mood is upbeat as we continue the push to reach a century of winners for the season before January 1st.
Despite the loss of The Welsh Grand National meeting at Chepstow we had plenty of horses in the frame over the two days and a double at Wetherby on December 27 took our score for the season to 96.
Sunday was a red letter day for my daughter Megan whose success on Mr Glass in the bumper brought her combined total of winners over jumps and on the flat to 100 which is a tremendous achievement.
My own immediate aim is to reach the century by the end of the month, and weather permitting, we will have with plenty of runners on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On Tuesday Bravemansgame has an obvious chance in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury where we run an exciting new recruit Good Ball in the Introductory Hurdle.
Later in the week McFabulous is on course for the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s day although it’s possible testing ground might not be ideal for him. You can’t wait for dry ground at this time of year so we have decided to run our horses whatever the going before they all have a quiet fortnight following their usual winter flu jabs.
On Saturday Sametegal goes in the Veterans Final at Sandown where Stormy Ireland runs in the mares’ hurdle.
For all the up to the minute news on my runners this week please be sure to check out my regular Betfair column which goes live on Monday evening and also on New Year’s Eve and on Friday evening.