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Frodon and Bravemansgame blossom as Paul Nicholls gives stars Wincanton away day

Paul Nicholls with Frodon: one of two who really took the trainer's eye in a workout at Wincanton
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Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Frodon and Ballymore Novices' Hurdle fancy Bravemansgame were the pair who took Paul Nicholls' eye in a workout at Wincanton on Tuesday morning.

They were among a dozen stablemates who completed a circuit of the track in a pre-Cheltenham gallop, just a fortnight before the festival gets under way.

"It was a good day out for them," said their trainer, who is based less than ten miles away in Ditcheat. "We do it every year. They didn't go a searching hard gallop, it was just a day out and they came together well.

"There were two that stood out in their coats this morning and looked fantastic – Frodon and Bravemansgame. 

"At this time of year their summer coats are coming through and you need them to be looking well and forward, and all of those are in the right place where we want them – but those two particularly stood out."  

Nicholls believes the bookmakers underestimate Frodon in the Gold Cup, for which the King George VI Chase winner is a best-priced 14-1.

"We beat Santini in the King George and he's a shorter price than us in the Gold Cup which I don't really get," he said. "Frodon is always underestimated a little bit, but he'll give a good account.

"He's in really good form, he worked beautifully this morning and he loves Cheltenham. No-one will expect him to win the Gold Cup, but if he did I wouldn't be surprised. 

"Take the favourite out and it's quite open. He surprised me when he won the King George, he probably surprised everybody, but it wasn't a fluke. They went a nice gallop that day and he won really comfortably."

Nicholls has won four Gold Cups but is hoping for a first for Ballymore with Bravemansgame, and said: "He has the right profile. He's kept improving and he's won the Challow, and this is the obvious race for him. 

"I'm very happy with him. He's a class horse. It's a hard race to win – years ago Denman got beat in it – but we think he's got a great chance."

Bravemansgame and Harry Cobden won the Challow Hurdle impressively

Ryanair hope Real Steel and Albert Bartlett candidate Barbados Buck's were among the others to gallop at Wincanton, in a string led by Champion Chase winner Politologue of whom Nicholls warned: "He comes good at this time of year and he's in there with a chance."

The trainer entered David Maxwell's recent Haydock winner Bob And Co in the St. James's Place Festival Hunters Chase when it closed on Tuesday, and said: "I think he'd have a great chance. He had a few issues with his wind last year, but we sorted that out and he won very impressively at Haydock.

"It's a shame David can't ride him. But he's been sporting and said to get on and run him, and he'll get on him when amateurs can ride again."

Bob And Co: solid claims for the Nicholls yard

However, Cyrname misses Cheltenham after his poor effort at Ascot last month and could be set for a wind operation.

"He's struggling with his breathing at the moment," Nicholls said. "We're doing some investigations to determine what we can do to get him back to his best next year.

"The only options he's got left are Aintree or possibly the Oaksey Chase at Sandown, but my gut feeling tells me that we probably have to do more surgery on him and you'll see him next in the Charlie Hall. But nothing's ruled in or out."

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No-one will expect him to win the Gold Cup but if he did I wouldn't be surprised
E.W. Terms