We are so spoiled
Bryony Frost with Frodon at Manor Farm Stables, Ditcheat.
Gary McKenzie on being spoiled by the festive season racing
I have loved the King George since the early eighties when Wayward Lad strutted his stuff. Some may disagree, but it is my sporting highlight of the festive season. It rarely disappoints.
And this years renewal was just fantastic.
Frodon did what Frodon does. And his jockey knows him so well. Bryony Frost controlled the race from the front. They are such a great team that it is almost as if they are one entity.
I remember John Francome recently complimenting Frodon on his jumping and you will get no argument from me. It was Paul Nicholl’s twelfth win in the race, but many would have expected Cyrname or Clan Des Obeaux to be in the winners enclosure.
And plaudits must also go to Ruth Jefferson who got Waiting Patiently fit enough to finish second on his first start for over a year. He should come on for that run.
And, a bit of trivia for you. Frodon won the Silvianaco Conti Chase in January. A race won by Waiting Patiently in 2018. This year’s renewal takes place next Saturday so it may be wise to take note of the winner at Kempton.
That was the main part of our Christmas feast but the trimmings were just as delicious.
Silver Streak finally got a change of luck (and gave me my only winner of the meeting) when he was an all the way winner of the Christmas Hurdle, beating hot favourite Epatante.
Shan Blue was the other Grade One winner on Boxing Day and he looked pretty decent. I wouldn’t give up on The Big Breakaway either. The RSA is surely his target.
Placed horses in the Feltham (or Kauto Star as it is now known) have a decent record in the “novices Gold Cup” (better than the winners in fact) with the likes of Bobs’ Worth, Trabolgan, Rule Supreme and Topofthegame, being beaten at Kempton before doing better three months later up the Cheltenham hill.
Another shock was in store when Nube Negra beat Altior in the Desert Orchid Chase. The winner is only six and now has chase form figures of 11221. That was also his first run since February. He is quite exciting.
Shishkin was just the thirteen lengths clear at the line in the Wayward Lad. He has bigger tasks ahead but he has won his last five over obstacles.
Over in Ireland Chacun Pour Soi and Appreciate It won their races as expected and I think we are all hoping that Irish horses are allowed back over soon so we can have some real battles at Cheltenham.
The Savills Chase looked top class with the likes of Minella Indo, Kemboy, Presenting Percy, and Delta Work bidding to display their Gold Cup credentials. But it was a horse who was running only his second race over three miles who was victorious.
A Plus Tard nabbed Kemboy on the line after coming from well back and is now as short as 10/1 for the Gold Cup. Some may crib the form, with Minella Indo and Delta Work failing to get past halfway, but the winner has always been a nice horse.
He has never been out of the frame over fences, and now has two Grade One wins to his name.
Sharjah must love Leopardstown at this time of year. He won the Matheson Hurdle for the second year and in 2018 he won the race when it was known as the Ryanair Hurdle. He is a very consistent hurdler and should not be too easily dismissed for future assignments.