The admirable Frodon gave weight and a sound beating to his rivals to claim his second victory in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.
What a marvellous performance by top-weight Frodon who wins his second Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase in three years.— CheltenhamRacecourse (@CheltenhamRaces) December 15, 2018
Bryony Frost truly is becoming the scarlet of National Hunt racing ???? pic.twitter.com/Yo4aTCcWNd
The Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old was over a stone lower in the weights when landing the prestigious handicap in 2016, but returned with strong claims after finishing second to the reopposing Baron Alco in the BetVictor Gold Cup at the track last month.
With Bryony Frost in the saddle, the diminutive chaser raced on the speed from flag-fall and produced some prodigious leaps to keep the pressure on his 11 rivals in behind.
With Baron Alco fading out of contention, Cepage emerged as the biggest threat, but Frodon found plenty for pressure to see him off by a length and a quarter in the hands of his jubilant rider.
Last year’s winner Guitar Pete boxed on to finish third.
Frost told ITV Racing: “He’s got top-weight, but it’s like he’s got invisible wings – he’s like Pegasus for me! Some of those strides – I was like ‘Frodon, what are you thinking?’ I just had to go with him.
When I asked him to go, there was no catching us then. He’s so brave – he’s awesome.”
Frodon becomes only the second dual winner of the race since Poquelin landed successive renewals for Nicholls in 2009 and 2010.
“I thought he went a bit quick for the first mile but he never stopped. I’m absolutely thrilled,” said the Ditcheat handler.
“I thought the last day we could have made a bit more use of him. This track (New Course) suits him better as it is more a test of stamina.
“His jumping is very good and I said to Bryony not to worry about the big weight just dictate it from the front. He just keeps galloping.
“We will have to go for Grade 1s now. He will probably go for the Ascot Chase and then the Ryanair.”
He added: “He is an astonishing horse as he is not very big, but that gave me some enjoyment – watching him go that gallop carrying 11st 12lb and some of those jumps were spectacular.
The number one target is the Ryanair and we will work back from that.”
BRAIN IS BACK
Later on the card, the Nicky Henderson-trained Brain Power recaptured his best form when switched back to the smaller obstacles in the Grade 2 International Hurdle. The 7/1 shot powered clear under Nico de Boinville before idling on the run-in.
Brain Power was second in the Arkle Trophy here in March, but fell on his final outing of the campaign at Aintree.
And having finished well beaten on his reappearance in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham last month, he reverted to the smaller obstacles for what looked a sub-standard renewal of this Grade 2 event.
The New One – bidding for a fourth victory in the race – raced enthusiastically on the front end in the first-time visor – but faded quickly from the home turn and was pulled up by Sam Twiston-Davies before the final flight. The popular veteran was subsequently retired.
Henderson was keen to credit owner Michael Buckley, saying: “It was totally his idea to go hurdling and full credit to him. I said this morning that was a good call and as the race panned out, it did seem a good call. I would have given him one more chance over fences in cheekpieces in the Peterborough Chase.
“He has always had stacks of ability. He has always looked like a chaser, but he has never found that easy and he has never actually jumped hurdles that well. It’s not that he’s ungenuine, he just doesn’t concentrate on what is in front of him the whole time.”
The Evan Williams-trained Silver Streak finished strongly to grab the runner-up spot ahead of 4/1 favourite Western Ryder in third.
The big disappointment of the race was last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Summerville Boy. Tom George’s charge was bidding to bounce back from a below-par comeback effort in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle a fortnight ago, but trailed home last of seven finishers.
Nelson River maintained his unbeaten record since switching codes after staying on powerfully to take the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle.
Having hit a flat-spot in the two-mile-one-furlong prize, Tony Carroll’s charge picked up both long time leader Katpoli and Fanfan Du Seuil up the run in before defeating the later by a length to add to his victory at Bangor last month.
Carroll said of the 6/1 victor: “It was not a surprise as he is a nice horse. He stays well and he has taken to jumping. He is a young horse and really he has had not much racing. I think the horse is still learning. He is a horse that is moving forward and has a bright future.
“Of course they would like to come back for the Festival. Today was a day to see where we were. We’ve always liked him. He is a lovely horse but they’ve still got to do it on the track. It was tough out there for juveniles and he has done it really well.”
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