GBI RACING

Frodon features at top of the weights for BetVictor Gold Cup

Frodon will have to defy top weight

Frodon has been left at the head of 28 remaining possibles for the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Thistlecrack has been taken out by Colin Tizzard, meaning the weights have gone up by 4lb. Tizzard could still be represented by Sizing Granite and West Approach.

That leaves Nicky Henderson’s well-fancied Rather Be on exactly 11st, and he will meet his Festival conqueror and market rival Mister Whitaker on 9lb better terms.

Nicky Henderson has his sights set on further Cheltenham success this weekend
Nicky Henderson has his sights set on further Cheltenham success this weekend (David Davies/PA)

“Everything has been good, he’s got one more bit of work to do,” said Henderson. “He just took a little bit of time to come to hand, but he’s in good shape now – his work last weekend was very good.

“His run at Cheltenham was very good, that race (Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap) is a real conundrum, you’ve got to have three runs, you can’t go over 145 but if you’re 140 you run the risk of not getting in.

“I’ve got three horses that are on that rating now, so I’ve got to hold them there between now and next March.

“Two and a half miles around there is just about perfect and good ground will suit him.

“He’s progressed every year, so let’s hope he can keep it up. His last two bits of work have been very good, so I think the bloom is there.”

Trainer by Mick Channon, Mister Whitaker made a winning return at Carlisle earlier this month, and shares favouritism with some firms for the big race with the Henderson runner.

Jack Channon, assistant to his father, said: “It was brilliant (the Cheltenham Festival win). We’ve had Royal Ascot successes and it was definitely on a par.

“I think a big part of our operation is Henrietta Knight and she does a brilliant job getting them jumping.

“There is a 9lb swing (with Rather Be) when we only beat him a head at Cheltenham, but I’m delighted with how he has come out of the race at Carlisle. He is fresh and well and we are very happy with him.”

Brian Hughes celebrates on Mister Whitaker after victory at Cheltenham
Brian Hughes celebrates on Mister Whitaker after victory at Cheltenham (David Davies/PA)

Looking to the future, Channon added: “It all depends where his ceiling is. If he has the ability to go that far (Ryanair Chase) that would be the race for him at Cheltenham. Between now and then he has got to up up another 15lb.

“The perfect stepping stone is this weekend. If he can go and win off 152 you are looking at a 160 horse. He is showing us all the right signs and he is improving.”

Frodon could be joined by Paul Nicholls-trained stablemates Le Prezien, Romain De Senam and Movewiththetimes. Aso and Top Gamble are towards the head of the weights, also.

Last year’s winner Splash Of Ginge, the Gary Moore pair of Benatar and Baron Alco, Neil Mulholland’s Kalondra and Nicky Richards’ Caspian Caviar Gold Cup winner Guitar Pete are others to note.

The sole Irish possible is Eric McNamara’s Black Scorpion.

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