The Paul Nicholls Cheltenham Preview: Frodon's Gold Cup chance really excites me

Paul Nicholls
Betfair ambassador Paul Nicholls can't wait for the Cheltenham Festival

Missed our exclusive Cheltenham Preview with Paul Nicholls and Harry Derham? Have no fear, you can watch the whole thing again here and we've also rounded up all the key quotes...

"Frodon absolutely loves Cheltenham. His performances in the King George just made it obvious to us that we had to enter him in the Gold Cup."

Paul Nicholls heads into the Festival having had a glorious season, with another top trainer award very much on the cards.

With the final Cheltenham preparations in place, the Betfair Ambassador and assistant trainer, Harry Derham, sat down with the Racing Post's Dave Orton for a wide ranging chat about his plans and thoughts for the Festival.

Watch it back here (from around 4:20) and read a summary of the evening below:

Bravemansgame ready to battle in the Ballymore

Tuesday, 13:20 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle

Paul Nicholls (PN): "Bravemansgame has shown plenty of ability at home, and the step up in trip has considerably helped. 2m was too short and we found that out at Chepstow, when it took Harry (Cobden) about half the track to pull him up. That's when we realised he needed the step up in trip and the Ballymore is the ideal race. He's a good, strong galloper and he should give a good run against the two top-rated Irish horses sitting at the top of the market."

"He needed a breathing op in the summer, gave him some time and that has helped him considerably preparing for the Ballymore."

Harry Derham (HD): "I've always really liked the way he's jumped and performed. He's always made his own running and Harry (Cobden) reckons that a better race will bring the best out of him."

Next Destination still unknown

Tuesday, 16:50 National Hunt Chase
Wednesday, 13:55 Brown Advisory Chase

PN: "We need to look at the ground and the opposition, which is why he is entered into both the National Hunt and the Brown Advisory, and make sure we do the right thing. Harry Cobden can ride him in either race, which massively helps. If the ground is soft, he will prefer 3m, but if the ground is drying, the National Hunt is an option.

"He won at Newbury, staying on well and then he won at Wetherby and nicely. We purposely haven't run him since in preparation for Cheltenham. He looks exceptional, but we haven't done an awful lot with him at home, but we're excited to see what he can do."

HD: "A more competitive three mile will be right up his street. He will only do as much as you ask him, but he is a strong galloper, that's for sure."

Politologue will be competitive in the Champion Chase

Wednesday, 15:05 Champion Chase

politologue-fox-norton-betfair-1280.jpg

PN: "Personally, I think he will reverse that Clarence House form with First Flow. He loves Cheltenham. He didn't quite get a breather last time out, but he's in superb order at home and he really takes to the track at Cheltenham.

"On what we've seen at home, he should run his race very well. The pressure is off a little with the heavy favourite, but we're in the race to win it."

Real Steel required in the Ryanair

Thursday, 14:30 Ryanair Chase

PN: "He travelled beautifully in the King George, the way he ran until four out you thought he was nailed on to win.

"He worked really nicely last week at Wincanton. He was a bit flat last year at Cheltenham in the Gold Cup and they didn't go a great gallop, which didn't help.

"He should have a much stronger chance in the Ryanair. I think he'll come on again for next year and will be back a better horse - but he's not without chance this time round."

Barbados Bucks & Threeunderthrufive to tackle the Albert Bartlett

Friday, 14:30 Albert Bartlett

PN: "Barbados Bucks was second in a point to point to Skatman back in April 2019, but has since improved with every single run.

"This year, he was second in a maiden hurdle, before winning at Southwell twice and he's just continued to progress and impress me. He's an out and out stayer, and if he's anything like Big Bucks at the Festival he has the right profile for the race.

"He put the race to bed very well at Kempton under a double penalty and we're hopeful of a strong performance."

"Threeunderthrufive came out of Musselburgh so impressively and he's won three from three - there isn't much between both horses."

HD: "It's a very open race this year, and I think both of these horses relax very well when racing and are both very good stayers. This race and test should bring out the best in them."

Frodon has a huge chance of success

Friday, 15:05 Gold Cup

Frodon Cheltenham 2019 - 1280.jpg

PN: "Frodon absolutely loves Cheltenham. His performances in the King George just made it obvious to us that we had to enter him in the Gold Cup. He won cosily in the King George, despite being given a nice lead by the others. We won't want testing ground, but he loves Cheltenham and Bryony is very much up for the challenge. What a story it would be if Frodon was to win the Gold Cup, right?

"He retains his enthusiasm so well and his jumping has been impeccable this season. I'm convinced he's got a strong chance. Away from the favourite, it's very much a level playing field. I couldn't see him winning the King George, but he went on and did it. So he has every chance and I'm very excited about him.

"It's unfortunate there isn't a crowd as that always helps him. He loves playing up to the crowd and is certainly a show boater."

HD: "This won't be out of his comfort zone and he's coming into this with a lot of boxes ticked, that's for sure. He will do his own thing, and the pace of the race shouldn't concern him at all.
If he can get in control of the race and the ground isn't too testing, there's every chance for Frodon."

Best chance of the Festival

PN: "Bravemansgame would be my NAP - he has had a good chance as any."

HD: "Bravemansgame also, I'd have to agree with Paul."

Dark horse

PN: "Storm Rising, with Bryony Frost aboard."

HD: "Shantou Flyer in the Challenge Cup Chase. He loves Cheltenham. Festival form is important, and he has that, so he could run well."

We also handed both Paul and Harry a £250 charity bet for the Festival and their selections were:

PN: "£125 each-way on Frodon in the Gold Cup."

HD: "£250 on Energumene to win the Arkle."

You can also listen back to the Paul Nicholls preview as a podcast:

More Cheltenham Preview Nights to come!

With no-one able to attend our famous Cheltenham Preview night this year, we've pushed the boat out and created three events. As well as Paul's we will have two live streams featuring Tony Calvin, Kevin Blake, Paul Kealy and more. Across Betfair channels on Thursday and Friday evening - details here

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