Frodon is “almost certain” to run in the Ryanair Chase in preference to the Gold Cup at Cheltenham next week, according to trainer Paul Nicholls.
The seven-year-old has a terrific record at Cheltenham, winning four times at Prestbury Park, including the Cotswold Chase – a renowned Gold Cup trial – in January.
Nicholls outlined Frodon – who has struck up a fine partnership with Bryony Frost – would be left in the Magners-sponsored Gold Cup at the confirmation stage on Saturday, but that he was looking at the Ryanair Chase 24 hours earlier “as the right race for him”.
He told Sky Sports Racing on Friday evening: “He’s almost certain to run in the Ryanair, it looks like some of the big names have dropped out, it will be interesting to see what does run.
“We’ll confirm him tomorrow for the Gold Cup, but he’s almost certain to run in the Ryanair.
“He’s rated 169 now, which is what Might Bite was when he was second in the Gold Cup (last year), so he has a high enough rating and he does like Cheltenham.
“(But) you’d have to say looking at the two races, if you’re looking to try to win the right thing to do is to run him in the Ryanair.
“He’ll love the track and he’ll get the trip very strongly, so that’s what we’re thinking.”
He added: “You’ve got to run horses in the right races and it does look like the Ryanair is probably the right race for him. He can always go further later.”
Nicholls has a leading Gold Cup contender in King George hero Clan Des Obeaux, who will go through his paces on Saturday morning and for whom the trainer has no stamina concerns, even in a soft-ground renewal.
He said: “Stamina is the least of our worries, he’s got plenty of stamina. Horses who win the King George have got to stay and he stayed on well at Ascot.
“There’s bits and pieces of rain forecast and everyone seems to get carried away – we have a few millimetres of rain and suddenly we’re going to have a quagmire.
“Remember, it’s been so dry for so long. Cheltenham will take plenty of rain and will absorb it. It’s not going to be too bad ground, unless it pours with rain on the day.”