Frodon to Miss Aintree as Nicholls Assembles His Squad
Frodon and Bryony Frost gave us one of the biggest and best stories to come from the Cheltenham Festival, but we will be seeing neither of them at Aintree next week. Bryony is injured and out of the meeting, and Frodon has been confirmed by his trainer Paul Nicholls as being done for the season.
After five very tough races it is probably no surprise to see Frodon being sent out to the field to relax after what has been a very impressive season. He won four out of those five starts, and ended things with two wins at Cheltenham, one in the Cotswold Chase and one in the Ryanair Chase at the festival. Bryony Frost has played an important part in the decision making process too, she is currently injured and Nicholls did not want to run the horse without her being available to ride, such is the relationship they have.
Nicholls has also updated us on a number of other horses from his yard, and what there plans are for the coming weeks. One horse that everyone is waiting to see next time out is the only one who doesn’t have a set in stone plan right now and that is Cyrname. Officially the best chaser in the country after his win at Ascot last time out, he has two options ahead of him, but no decision has been made yet. The first is to go to Aintree where he could face Altior in the Melling Chase, a clash that would suddenly become the best race of the meeting, barring the National.
However, it is a little earlier to be getting excited about that just yet, as both horses have other targets down the line. Cyrname could swerve Aintree and go to Punchestown instead, a course that would suit him far better than Aintree, while Altior could head to the Celebration Chase at Sandown, somewhere we have seen him end his season before. It would be great to see one of them, even better to see both of them, but as things stand, I don’t think we should be getting too excited just yet.
One horse who will run in the Melling Chase is Politologue, who ran Altior so close in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham. The likeable grey showed he can go with the best of them when he is on a going day, and if the big two decide to miss the Melling Chase, it could be down to him to pick up the pieces.
Topofthegame won the RSA Chase in very impressive style at the festival, and is being touted as a potential Gold Cup horse for next season. He is likely to go to Aintree to try and confirm that he is the best three mile novice we have at the moment, which adds another star name to the list of potential runners at the meeting.
He could face a horse that has already beaten him this season though, with La Bague Au Roi running at Aintree after swerving Cheltenham. she has multiple options ahead of her, with the Mildmay Novices’ Chase being one of them, and that would be the race where Topofthegame runs. I think the Nicholls horse has improved since being beaten by La Bague Au Roi, but the mare will be a fresher horse after missing Cheltenham, leaving us with another potentially mouth watering clash.
Lastly, Nicholls has not yet decided whether he will have a runner in the Grand National. His only entry is Warrior’s Tale, but there is doubts surrounding his stamina and it is likely that his owner Trevor Hemmings will have other horses to run in the race from other stables which will be more suited to the test. One of those is Vintage Clouds from the Sue Smith yard who ran a great race when finishing second at Cheltenham, and that horse gives Hemmings a live chance in the big one. If he doesn’t go for the National, then Warrior’s Tale could instead head to the Topham Chase, another race over the big fences.
Just over a week to go until the Aintree Grand National meeting begins, and Paul Nicholls is beginning to assemble the squad he is taking with him.