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Frost melts hearts as best friend Frodon delivers in Ryanair on biggest stage

A delighted Bryony Frost after the Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon landed the Ryanair Chase on Thursday
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That smile. That endless supply of enthusiasm. That never-say-die attitude. That audacious leap at the last. That walk down the chute. That raucous reception. That is why we love jump racing.

We didn't want this particular Ryanair flight to land at all as we were carried away on a wave of wonderfulness thanks to the ferocious Frodon and the blissful Bryony Frost. If you didn't enjoy this, jump racing is not for you.

Asked to describe Frost in three words, Frodon's trainer Paul Nicholls replied: "Bloody fantastic."

The ten-time champion trainer can be forgiven for miscounting given he had just won his second Grade 1 of the week with a horse who was stone-last in the same race 12 months ago, beaten 37 lengths.

Nicholls knew this was a different Frodon to last year, that's why he returned to the scene of the crime rather than take a stab in the dark in the Gold Cup a day later.

It worked out pretty well, with 23-year-old Frost becoming the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 at the Cheltenham Festival over obstacles.

Frost, for whom this was a second festival triumph following Pacha Du Polder in the 2017 Foxhunter, when she was an amateur, rather likes and rates Frodon.

Frodon (right) jumps alongside 33-1 runner-up Aso on his way to a brave win in the Ryanair Chase

"He's Pegasus, he has wings, and he's the most incredible battler," she said. "When he got overtaken two out, most horses would quit, but he grabbed me by the hands and said, 'Don't you dare give up, don't you dare not send me into the last, I want this more than you, now come on!'"

Just like Frodon after the second-last, Frost was not finished. Not by a long shot.

"He's the perfection of determination," she continued. "Look at what he's done there and tell me he doesn't love his racing. He's unbelievable. The dream he has just made come true for me is just incredible. He deserves every single pat, carrot and polo. This is his day."

This was your day too, Bryony. It was not just Frodon who wrote this most heart-warming of stories, you contributed more than your fair share of chapters too. When you talk, people don't just listen, they smile at the same time.

"He would not lie down," she beamed. "It's a lesson for us all. Sometimes you might go down but you've got to get up and get going again. And at the last he was just magic. Then when he got to the front he did his usual and just looked up at the crowd and made sure he took it all in. Just like I did."

Frodon started 9-2 joint-second favourite and Nicholls said: "I really fancied him. You need one who stays three miles on that ground, and he stays three miles.

"There was no decision in the end when it rained – we were always going to go for the Ryanair rather than the Gold Cup. Frodon goes a gallop, so they'd have needed to be going some speed to go past him.

"He just galloped and jumped and I knew he had to be mega, mega fit to win today. That was just brilliant."

"She has just got better and better and better" – Paul Nicholls on Bryony Frost after her victory on Frodon

Aso almost spoiled the party, and it would have been a mega story too had he held on, given that his rider Charlie Deutsch has served time in prison since the festival last year. 

The 33-1 outsider edged past Frodon and Road To Respect over the second-last, but Frost was too stubborn, too strong, too skilful and, with her gallant comrade, was having none of it. 

"Bryony gave him an awesome ride," said Nicholls. "We had a plan and she carried it out brilliantly. She works hard. She has just got better and better and better. For some reason a horse like Frodon suits her brilliantly, and vice versa. 

"Paul [Vogt, owner] texted me earlier this week and said maybe we should have gone for the Gold Cup instead. I texted him back and said, 'Don't worry, it's soft, we'll win the Ryanair'."

Win the Ryanair they did, thanks to a terrier who would not take no for an answer and a jockey who is ridiculously good at riding horses and perhaps even better at talking and telling us how she feels.

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He deserves every single pat, carrot and polo. This is his day
E.W. Terms
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