Fantastic Frodon bounces back to form in Silviniaco Conti Chase
The race newly named after one Paul Nicholls-trained great was fittingly won by another with Frodon making all to hold off outsider Keeper Hill under an inspired ride from Bryony Frost.
Last year's Ryanair Chase winner was scoring for the first time since the festival when battling home to win by a length and a quarter, and a crack at the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup is not being ruled out after the eight-year-old put Keeper Hill and 2019 winner Top Notch to the sword.
The 5-4 chance was second in the market behind Top Notch and the race looked to be on when the latter closed down the leader on the home turn, but one kick from Frost stole a crucial couple of lengths in sight of the stands and the duo were not for passing after that.
Frodon was getting the wheels back on his season after defeats over 2m4f at Aintree and 3m at Haydock, and connections are keeping their options open, although the Denman Chase at Newbury on February 8 is the likely next stop.
Frost said: "That was brilliant, he was textbook and I'm well chuffed with that. His jumping was slightly out to the left all the time and I wondered if that might be a problem if he was rolling about at the end, but when I gave him one click on the home turn he took off and I knew they would have to be something special to get to me."
The winner was cut to 5-1 (from 8-1) by Paddy Power for a repeat win in the Ryanair Chase and the same firm also halved him in price to 25-1 for the Gold Cup.
Frost added: "I don't know whether he's a Ryanair horse or a Gold Cup horse, but I'll just keep kicking."
Harry Derham, assistant trainer to Nicholls, said: "Bryony has given him a great ride and it's nice to have him back in the winner's enclosure. I would expect him to have entries in the Ryanair Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but the plan is to go up to three miles in the Denman Chase at Newbury next month."
Warren Greatrex, trainer of Keeper Hill, said: "That has to be his best run to date and I think he has a good one in him. We may go back over hurdles next to mix it up with a Pertemps qualifier at Musselburgh and beyond that there is the Grade 1 Melling Chase at Aintree."
On Top Notch, trainer Nicky Henderson said: "He's run another good race, but Daryl said he was flat to the boards all the way around. He's not been disgraced and is still a legend at our yard."
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