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Frodon and Bryony Frost all set for Old Roan defence at Aintree

Mon 21 Oct 2019

Frodon and Bryony Frost will face a maximum of nine rivals as they head for the defence of their Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase crown at Aintree.

Horse and jockey signposted their brilliant Grade One-winning 2018/19 season by winning Sunday’s prestigious limited handicap for Paul Nicholls 12 months ago.

They followed that Grade Two success with three victories in four visits to Cheltenham, culminating in a memorable triumph at the top level in the Ryanair Chase at the Festival in March.

Watch what our experts made of Frodon's performance 12 months ago

Nicholls reports Frodon on target to run this weekend, en route to a likely shot at next month’s Grade One Betfair Chase at Haydock.

The champion trainer said on Monday: “He is in good shape, and the plan at the moment is to run at Aintree.

“Bryony schooled him over fences this morning, and that was ideal. He has probably schooled a two or three times over fences this season.

“I think I will probably go to the Betfair Chase afterwards, but that is not set in stone.

“It is the sort of track that if the ground was not too bad would suit him well.”

Bryony Frost with Frodon at Ditcheat
Bryony Frost with Frodon at Ditcheat

There are some intriguing contenders among Frodon’s possible rivals, following the publication of this weekend’s 10 entries.

Harry Whittington’s Saint Calvados may face a move up in trip, having won first time out for each of the past two seasons since joining the Oxfordshire stable and with two Graded two-mile chase successes already on his CV.

Whittington could also run Bigmartre, who returned to form in April with an emphatic win at Perth.

"Bigmartre is an intended runner on Sunday. He is in good shape and I could not be happier with his preparation for this race," Whittington said.

"He seems to be more of a flat track horse and the configuration of the Mildmay Course looks ideal for him.

"He obviously won impressively in a lower grade race at the end of last season and we thought we would have a go at a big pot while he is a fresh horse.

"Page Fuller got a great tune out of him at Perth and she will keep the ride.

"Saint Calvados has a couple of options and no decision has been made."

Amy Murphy’s Kalashnikov is another in the reckoning, after ending last season with a resurgent win over course and distance from the high-class La Bague Au Roi in the Grade One Manifesto  Novices’ Chase.

Jack Quinlan celebrates on Kalashnikov after winning the Manifesto Novices' Chase
Jack Quinlan celebrates on Kalashnikov after winning the Manifesto Novices' Chase

Murphy reported: "The Old Roan is the plan for Kalashnikov. He is in very good form and enjoyed his summer holidays. He did well over the summer and we have been pleased with his preparation.

"The Ryanair Chase is the long-term dream, but that is a way off yet.

"Aintree looks a good starting point and we'll see how he gets on there before mapping out the rest of his season."

Richard Newland’s Mcgroarty, another potentially up in trip, will be on a four-timer if he takes his chance after completing his hat-trick at Kelso this month.

Dan Skelton’s Born Survivor won twice at Listed level in handicaps last season, while the lightly-raced Go Long may represent Evan Williams.

Completing the possible field are Brian Ellison’s Forest Bihan, Flying Angel from Nigel Twiston-Davies’ yard – who was sixth in this race last year – and dual Topham Chase winner Ultragold for Colin Tizzard.

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