Cheltenham Gold Cup: As racehorses go, there are few more popular than Frodon. Trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden most often by Bryony Frost, the now 10-year-old has had some memorable victories over the last few years, including the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and the King George VI Chase at Kempton. The special bond between Frodon and Frost has always captured the imagination of racing fans, and no-one has ever begrudged the pair their moments of triumph.
However, it looks as though Frodon’s career is gradually winding down, reflected by the decision made by Nicholls and owner PJ Vogt not to enter him in the Cheltenham Gold Cup for 2022. His only appearance in the Cheltenham Festival’s showpiece race came last year, and when you look at how that panned out you can perhaps understand the decision to spare him this time around. Frodon came home in fifth place, some 34 lengths behind winner Minella Indo.
Frodon will not appear at the Cheltenham Festival at all this year, and it will be interesting to see what his connections have in store for him in the near future, as it’s clear that despite reaching the age of 10, this is still a horse who can produce stunning performances on his day. Perhaps Nicholls and co. are simply seeking to take him out of the direct spotlight and enter him in races that bring a more realistic chance of winning.
There’s no two ways about it — even the best horse racing betting site would not have listed Frodon amongst the top favourites for the Cheltenham Gold Cup before the entries were announced, so his absence from the race should not have too much impact on the betting market. But there is still a sense that leaving him out denies the race some of its star quality. Whether he has a chance of winning or not, Frodon is a big name in jumps racing and would’ve done his bit to draw in viewers.
Then, there is the fact that, on his day, there’s no doubt Frodon has the ability to hold his own against the favourites for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Yes, last year’s performance left a lot to be desired, but you only need to look at the way he won King George in 2020 to know that this is a horse capable of amazing things when the stars align for him. There’s no doubt that Nicholls and Vogt know what’s best, but there will still be a Frodon-shaped hole in this year’s race.
Spare a thought for Frost too, who would no doubt have been dreaming of landing the Gold Cup onboard Frodon, a horse with who she has enjoyed so many great days. She will have plenty of chances still to come in her career, it’s just a shame that she only got one opportunity in the Cheltenham showpiece race with Frodon.
Nicholls admitted after Frodon won King George just over a year ago that he is a horse who “never knows when he’s beat.” This decision taken by the horse’s connections may signal the end of the road for Frodon in the biggest races, but he’s certainly given us plenty of memories. One can only wonder what might have happened if he’d been allowed one last crack at the big one.