|Monday 13th February 2018
Paul Nicholls Media Stable visit
Paul Nicholls' intended runner in the G1 Betfair Ascot Chase, worth £150,000, over 2m 5f at Ascot on Saturday, February 17.
Breeding: Nickname (FR) - Miss Country (FR) (Country Reel (USA))
Owner: Paul Vogt
Nine-time winner, with the latest of seven chase victories from 15 outings over fences coming in a G3 handicap chase over two miles and five furlongs at Cheltenham on January 27, when he was the very impressive 17-length winner under top-weight when partnered by Bryony Frost, then claiming a 5lb allowance.
Frodon was runner-up on his penultimate appearance in the Listed Lavazza Silver Cup Handicap Chase over three miles at Ascot on December 23.
Previously finished third to Top Notch in G2 Christy 1965 Chase over two miles and five furlongs at Ascot on November 25.
A G2 winner at Kempton Park in February, 2017, when landing the Pendil Novices' Chase.
Was only a four-year-old when landing highly-competitive G3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase over two miles and five furlongs at Cheltenham in December, 2016. Official BHA Rating: 164.
He is entered in the G1 Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next month.
Starts: 23; Wins: 9; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 4 Win & Place Prize Money: £269,346
Paul Nicholls said today: " "The owner is away at the moment and there are three meetings on Saturday so we just need to have a look and think about all our riding arrangements.
"I will see what Sam (Twiston-Davies) has elsewhere - it is quite possible that Bryony will ride Frodon (8/1 with Betfair) again - she has ridden him the last twice and they have run really, really well.
"She rides well - she has been given the opportunity to ride some really good horses. She listens and I said before Cheltenham that there was fresh ground, go and walk it. She did and kept on the fresh ground. She is enthusiastic, but most of all the horses run sweetly for her - that is a big thing. She has a lot of good qualities and seems a very good chase jockey.
"Frodon had a great season last season, winning six novices' chases, and has been running really well this season. He put a fantastic performance the other day at Cheltenham. He is rated 164 after being put up a lot and we really have no choice but to run him in better races like the Betfair Ascot Chase rather than handicaps.
"You don't see too many horses sprint up the Cheltenham hill like he did and on that ground (heavy) too. That was a handicap and this weekend he goes for a Grade One and he will meet totally different horses. He deserves to take his chance.
"Of the others in the race, Waiting Patiently (11/4) and Top Notch (9/4 favourite) are very good, while Cue Card (7/1) is running and the horse from Ireland, Coney Island (5/2), beat one of ours (Adrien Du Pont) the other day. It is a hell of a good race and we just have to hope that Frodon is still progressing and the Cheltenham victory was not a fluke. He jumps and travels very well and is in really good form.
"I would not be afraid to go back to three miles on better ground. He is only just turned six so he will get progressively stronger - he can keep improving. For a small horse, he jumps really, really well.
"I was slightly concerned before Cheltenham that the ground may have been too soft for him, but it did not seem to make any difference to him. He is quite versatile on ground and tough."
"You only really target these races if you have a horse good enough, but we've had three good winners of the race (Rockforce 2000; Kauto Star 2008 and Silviniaco Conti 2016) and with Frodon, we've had to go for the race because of his new mark."
Bryony Frost added today: "Who knows if Frodon can step up to a G1 successfully? We are testing the waters and asking bigger questions. Can he answer them? Saturday will tell - it is as simple as that.
"He was impressive at Cheltenham, you cannot ignore him for that, he jumps and he travels.
"He was top-weight and it was soft ground. He is talented and had already shown that. We took 5lb of his back, we had a dream run and he jumped perfectly and he was the only one galloping."
Frodon in his box today
1.50pm G2 Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices' Chase, 2m 7f 180y, £40,000 - re-opened for entries until 11am tomorrow
Black Corton (FR)
Breeding: Laverock (IRE) - Pour Le Meilleur (FR) (Video Rock (FR))
Owner: The Brooks, Stewart Families & Jeremy Kyle
Black Corton has enjoyed a fabulous season so far, with seven victories in novices' chases.
Recorded his biggest victory on latest outing when taking the G1 Kauto Star Novices' Chase at by a length and a half from Elegant Escape at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. Previously successful at Cheltenham twice, Newton Abbot, Fontwell twice and Worcester. He has been ridden by Bryony Frost for six of those victories.
Black Corton is a Listed winner over hurdles. The horse holds entries in Saturday's G2 Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices' Chase at Ascot on Saturday and the Cheltenham Festival in March in the four-mile G2 National Hunt Chase and the G1 RSA Chase over three miles.
Official BHA Rating: 155
Starts: 21; Wins: 12; 2nd: 4; 3rd: 4 Win & Place Prize Money: £163,113
Paul Nicholls commented: "The intention is run Black Corton in the Grade Two Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices' Chase at Ascot on Saturday.
"Bryony always rides Black Corton, who won the Grade One Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Christmas. He has astonished me with the improvement he has made this season, winning seven races from nine outings.
"He has just kept on improving. The maximum he was rated over hurdles was 135 and we just thought he would be a summer horse, but he is now rated 155+ and has just kept on winning.
"I probably got him beat at Newbury as I did not have enough belief in the horse. We should have made more use of him as we did at Kempton Park.
"He galloped all the way to the line at Kempton, even though he pulled a front shoe off four out and the bulb of his heel off, finishing lame. That would have stopped a lot of horses so he is obviously tough. He had 10 days box rest after that.
"He has had a nice break. He has been so well and you are only a novice once. This is his only chance to run in the Reynoldstown at Ascot on Saturday. He has progressed from race to race and thrived from running.
"He will do a piece of work on Thursday, just to make sure we are happy. He was going to school this morning, but the snow shower we had stopped that.
"Black Corton is in good form. I'm not sure why he and Bryony Frost get on so well together, something just seems to have clicked with Black Corton this season and they've just been on a roll.
"This is really a prep race for Cheltenham - the plan is to go to the RSA Chase at Cheltenham after Saturday. The idea is to have him right for Cheltenham.
"He does seem to have progressed race on race and I'm not sure he's a horse that wants to be without a run for a while, so this is a good prep race for him.
"I thought he wanted fast ground but has won on the soft at Cheltenham and Kempton Park now. Good horses go on any ground.
"The Reynoldstown is the right race for him. Like Frodon, he is not a great big scopey horse, rather a small athletic horse who has done really well.
"He has got to quite a lofty rating and unless he progresses more, next season will be quite hard. But he has done nothing wrong - who knows, he is progressive and could be a surprise package for us."
Bryony Frost said today: "I think Black Corton has surprised everyone - he is awesome.
"Paul and the owners were keen to get me, when I turned conditional, on the right foot. It is important for young jockeys too and it just so happened to be this little horse I got legged up on at Worcester.
"Who would believe that every time we asked him to give more, he gave more. I am privileged to be on him.
"I don't know why we get on - we just do. We just fit in the groove together and ride the same wave.
"I sat on him this morning and he feels great - he is his old self, just going about his business today, doing his routine. The snow started coming down and he started having a few sneezes - he is not used to that around these areas. He is in good shape.
"His victory at Kempton was awesome - jumping is the name of the game and he jumped. He was a 100 per cent right and Paul said just kick on and keep the pace strong as we know he stays and jumps. - put fitness to the test.
"The gallop we went was ridiculous - I don't think we were far behind Might Bite's time - Black Corton was electric.
"We want to get the ball rolling again at Ascot on Saturday before the big questions come at Cheltenham.
"He has had a lovely little break and he is as fresh as paint this morning.
"I am claiming 3lb now - I would love to still claim 5lb. That is what it is - we are improving and going through the stages of our career like everybody has to. You hope the experience you are gaining will prove you can have 3lb off rather than 5lb and still produce winners.
"I am Paul's conditional and the team here have looked after my career perfectly and they will carry on holding my hand through it - I would be lost without them and all the support of my family."
Manor Farm Stables, Ditcheat, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
Synopsis - 10-time champion Jump trainer in Britain (2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16).
He became the first British handler to accrue more than £4 million of prize money in a season in 2007/08.
He is a close second to current champion Nicky Henderson in this season's championship (2017/2018).
He saddled his 2,000th winner at Down Royal on November 5, 2011, 20 years after taking his licence, making him the fastest Jump trainer to reach that landmark figure and has now almost reached the 2,900-winner mark.
He has sent out 41 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, the third-highest total ever, including four victories in the feature Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, and gained 115 Grade One successes in all.
Neptune Collonges provided Nicholls with a first Grand National victory in 2012.
Betfair Ascot Chase winners (3): Rockforce (2000), Kauto Star (2008), Silviniaco Conti (2016).
Born - Lydney, Glos, April 17, 1962.
Background - The son of a policemen, Nicholls began his racing career as a Jump jockey and partnered 130 winners between 1980 and 1989, with his biggest successes coming in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury on Broadheath (1986) and Playschool (1987), who also won the Irish Gold Cup with Paul up in 1988.
Having struggled to keep his weight down, he retired from riding in 1989 and assisted Devon handler David Barons, trainer of not only Broadheath and Playschool but also Seagram, who won the 1991 Grand National at Aintree during Nicholls' time at the stable.
Nicholls took out his own licence to train at Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat on November 1, 1991, with just eight horses and has come a long way since. Manor Farm Stables, which has been expanded, is the main yard, with Highbridge the second yard just outside the village.
First winner as a trainer - Olveston, Hereford, December 20, 1991.
Born : April 13, 1995
Background : daughter of Buckfastleigh-based trainer Jimmy Frost, who rode Little Polvier to victory in the 1989 Grand National before taking over his father's training licence in March, 2002.
Bryony's brother Hadden, who sources and breaks in horses, was also a successful jockey and partnered Buena Vista to victory in the Pertemps Final at the 2010 Cheltenham Festival.
Bryony started riding the yard's donkey Nosey as soon as she could walk and moved on to riding out racehorses for her father at the tender age of nine. She became an amateur jockey aged 16 and enjoyed tremendous success in point-to-points (over 55 winners in that sphere), winning the National Novice title and the National Hunt Girls' title.
She shot to wider prominence at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival in March when guiding the Paul Nicholls-trained Pacha Du Polder to victory in the Foxhunter Chase.
She turned professional in July, 2017, and has gained several high-profile wins for Nicholls already this season, headed by Black Corton in the G1 Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, Present Man in the Listed Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase at Wincanton on November 11 and Frodon in a G3 handicap chase at Cheltenham.
The now 3lb-claimer has had 41 winners under Rules so far, including 27 this season. She has enjoyed one success (on hunter chaser Polisky in the Royal Ascot Racing Club Open Hunters' Chase on April 3, 2016) from seven rides at Ascot Racecourse.