Caspian Caviar Gold Cup
|Handicap Chase, Cheltenham 13:55
Grade 3, £130,000 added,
2m 4f 166y, Class 1
|Saturday 15th December 2018|
1 Frodon 7/1
2 Cepage 12/1
3 Guitar Pete 13/2
12 ran NR: Casse Tete, Full Glass, Splash Of Ginge
Distances: 1¼l, 15l, 2¼l Time: 5m 11.70s (slow by 12.70s)
Frodon, who captured the extended two and a half mile contest in 2016, provided trainer Paul Nicholls with a record fifth victory in the race and emulated his stable-companion Poquelin, who won in 2009 and 2010.
Top-weight Frodon (11st 12lb), runner-up in the G3 BetVictor Gold Cup at The November Meeting, was immediately sent to the front by Bryony Frost and the Paul Vogt-owned chaser saw off his 11 rivals with an exhilarating display of jumping.
Baron Alco (11st, 5/1, Gary Moore/Jamie Moore) joined the leader heading out on the second circuit but could not live with Frodon, who saw off his BetVictor Gold Cup conqueror turning for home.
Cepage (10st 5lb, 12/1, Venetia Williams/Charlie Deutsch) stayed on well to go second three fences out but could not quite get on terms with Frodon, who kept on gamely up the hill to score by a length and a quarter, the pair clear.
Last season’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup winner Guitar Pete (10st, 13/2, Nicky Richards/Ryan Day) made good late headway to take third, 15 lengths behind Cepage, with another two and a quarter lengths back to Baron Alco. It was a cold and wet day at Cheltenham Racecourse.
Somerset-based Paul Nicholls, the 10-time champion Jump trainer, said: “What a horse – he had 10st 4lb when he won this race two years ago and 11st 12lb today.
“For whatever reason, he is improving. I said to Bryony pop him out and put it to them. I was just worried that for the first mile he was a little bit free, but what an engine he must have to keep galloping like that and jump like he did – astonishing horse.
“The improvement in him is just unbelievable. Those sort of horses suit Bryony – they were just amazing. I am gobsmacked that he has won off that weight. I knew Frodon was well.
“I did tell Bryony to be a bit more positive than we were the other day and try to put them to the sword.
“In the BetVictor Gold Cup, all he did was stay on, and the New Course suits him that much better than the Old Course because it’s stiffer and more galloping.
“I thought we might have a chance of turning it round with Baron Alco on the New Course – it was made for him.
“He went a fair old gallop and kept going. He and Bryony are so brave – when he is half-wrong at a fence, he just has a go at it. He eats the fences. I knew turning in that he has his ears pricked and he always does enough.
“He is six now and I suppose that we have got to train him for the Ryanair Chase. We will work back from that and I can’t see him running again for a while. If we are going to go for the Ryanair Chase and take is seriously, you would want to go there fresh or just one run beforehand.
“There is no point in trying to ask him to carry another big weight in a handicap, let’s try and win the Ryanair with him.
“It is a great race to win and I really enjoyed it. The whole thing, from his jumping and going a gallop out in front, is what it is all about.”
Bryony Frost commented: “You have a partner like Frodon whose dares you to say ask me again, ask me again – and he has top-weight guys – and he bounds just across the fences like he has got invisible wings – it is literally like he is Pegasus for me. Some of those strides – what did he think! He is like no go on, we have got to, so I go with him – he is so brave.
“He is as big as a lion, the biggest, baddest one of them all – awesome. You have got to have 100 per cent confidence – I gave him a couple of breathers because of his jumping. This ground is getting softer and the weight is getting harder – he was reaching for a few, I had to fill his lungs. So we did and then I asked him to go – hey boy, there was no catching us then.
“With that weight and the weather out there, Frodon nearly got blown sideways first time up the home straight. The way that he put pressure on with his jumping today – he is just so brave – and you have to believe in him.
“When you see the strides on him, you have to take it because he wants it. He is the epitome of a brave racehorse – he just loves to go out there and give everything to you.
“It’s a privilege to be sat on horses like that. He is just a big dude who fights for you. He is only six and his engine is still building underneath him – you can see him afterwards, dragging the team along, he is as fresh as paint. He is a complete warrior.
“I didn’t know if I could hear hoofprints coming behind me or my colours flapping in the wind. I didn’t dare look, I just kept growling at Frodon and sending him up the hill, praying to God that the line would come somewhere.”
The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup
£130,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 4f 166y, Class 1
|Pos||D||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Frodon (FR) 7/1||Bryony Frost
|P F Nicholls||6|
|2nd||1¼||Cepage (FR) 12/1||Charlie Deutsch
|Miss V Williams||6|
|3rd||15||Guitar Pete (IRE) 13/2||Ryan Day
|N G Richards||8|
|4th||2¼||Baron Alco (FR) 5/1||J E Moore
|G L Moore||7|
|5th||3¼||Rather Be (IRE) 7/2f||J McGrath
|N J Henderson||7|
|6th||¾||Mr Medic 12/1||James Best
|7th||5||Foxtail Hill (IRE) 14/1||Sam Twiston-Davies
|N A Twiston-Davies||9|
|8th||½||Catamaran Du Seuil (FR) 20/1||Charlie Hammond (5)
|Dr R D P Newland||6|
|9th||3¾||Casablanca Mix (FR) 14/1||Nico de Boinville
|N J Henderson||6|
|10th||¾||War Sound 7/1||R Johnson
|P J Hobbs||9|
|PU||Cobra De Mai (FR) 20/1||Harry Skelton
|PU||Romain De Senam (FR) 12/1||Sean Bowen
|P F Nicholls||6|
|WN||Full Glass (FR)||D A Jacob
|WN||Splash of Ginge||Jamie Bargary
|N A Twiston-Davies||10|
|NR||Casse Tete (FR)||Joshua Moore
|G L Moore||6|