Frodon on course for Haydock, with ground key to weekend plans for Nicholls
Paul Nicholls has confirmed Frodon will bid to provide him with a seventh victory in Saturday’s Betfair Chase – provided conditions at Haydock do not become too testing.
The popular 10-year-old proved he is no back number with a heartwarming success under top-weight in the Badger Beer Handicap Chase at Wincanton a fortnight ago and is set for a return to Grade One level.
Frodon is the 20-1 outsider of five for Haydock’s showpiece event – but Nicholls is not one to shirk a challenge and is happy to roll the dice as long as the ground is not extreme.
“As long as the ground is soft and not much worse than that we’ll stick to the plan,” said the Ditcheat handler.
“It’s going to be a small field, he’s fit and what else do I save him for? It’s either that or save him for the King George. If he was favourite for the King George you might say we’ll just keep him fresh.
“He’s come out of that race (at Wincanton) very well and he is fit. Who knows? He isn’t going to beat Protektorat and A Plus Tard on all known form, of course he’s not, but he might pick up some nice place money and run tidy.
“At the moment we’re going to declare him tomorrow, but if it got heavy then we’d probably think about it.”
Ground conditions are also likely to dictate where Hitman heads at the weekend, with Nicholls keen to give him a prep run ahead of the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
The six-year-old is entered in a graduation chase at Haydock, as well as Ascot’s Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase, a Grade Two contest for which Nicholls has also entered Pic d’Orhy and Saint Calvados.
“If L’Homme Presse runs at Ascot, Hitman would probably go to Haydock, but I might just second preference him in case the ground got really bad at Haydock,” Nicholls added.
“I don’t think we’ll run Pic d’Orhy on testing ground at Ascot – he’ll probably wait for the Peterborough Chase. Saint Calvados will probably run whatever.
“Because the owners are at Haydock they’re quite keen for Hitman to go there and it looks a nice race for him as long as the ground doesn’t get heavy.
“The idea is he’s going to run in the King George with Bravemansgame as I’m sure that trip and track at Kempton will suit him well.
“I’m not saying he’ll beat Bravemansgame, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he wasn’t too far behind him.”
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