Paul Nicholls loves nothing more than redressing the Irish domination of the National Hunt scene and FRODON (Down Royal, 2.50) bids to become the latest to restore some equilibrium in Saturday’s Ladbrokes Champion Chase.
There was a collective licking of wounds from the home team post Cheltenham as a record-breaking 23 Irish victories painted a bleak picture for UK jump racing.
But Nicholls has never been averse to visiting Ireland when the right opportunity presents itself and his decision to let Clan Des Obeaux loose in the Punchestown Gold Cup was rewarded with the defeat of dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo.
Frodon out to upstage the Irish in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase on Saturday
Never one to shirk a challenge, the trainer again crosses the Irish Sea to tackle a Gold Cup winner, this time Minella Indo who also makes his seasonal comeback in this afternoon’s Grade One feature.
As seen at Ascot a couple of seasons ago when Cyrname famously lowered Altior’s colours, Nicholls can be difficult to resist when he settles on a plan and it is unlikely Frodon will be wanting for fitness on his return to action.
The selection has overcome absences of 226, 193 and 160 days in winning first time out, while his record in small-field races (1-5 runners) on right-handed tracks reads 111211 with the only defeat inflicted by Might Bite.
In contrast, Minella Indo has won just one of his five starts going right-handed and has also been beaten on a couple of seasonal reappearances with trainer Henry de Bromhead describing him as a hard horse to get fit.
Unfortunately, the one spanner in the works is Minella Indo’s performance at Wexford on his return 12 months ago when, after being returned to training a little earlier