Frodo and Bryony Frost fought off Galvin in a thrilling ending to the Champion Chase at Down Royal.
The first year freshman pursuit of the new national hunting season was good enough to honor one of the spring festivals, with all five runners having enjoyed success at Cheltenham in the past. King George winner Frodo was joined by last year’s Gold Cup scorer Minella Indo, as well as two-time first-year winner Delta Work and Galvin, winner of his last six.
Frodo adopted his usual leadership role and made tremendous leaps, but Rachael Blackmore was keen not to let Paul Nicholls’ charge get too far ahead of Minella Indo. The Gordon Elliott trio of Delta Work, Galvin and Ravenhill occupied the last three places in the first half of the race, with Ravenhill struggling to keep up.
With five fences to jump, Frodo’s accuracy put Minella Indo under pressure but Blackmore pushed her mount closer, as Galvin and Delta Work stepped in. As they made their way down the hill, Frost darted forward, but they lined up behind her and the three of them looked like huge threats.
Delta Work was the first to crack, but Frodo still had to fend off Minella Indo and Galvin. Minella Indo’s lack of running started to kick in, but Galvin joined Frodo by skipping the last two and the pair produced a real thriller. Yet it was Frodo who won by three-quarters in length.
Frost, competing in his first race as a professional in Ireland, said: “What more can you say about him? It was hard. The uncertainty of where we were going there and he was looking around… What is it, 18 races he won in his life? It’s just phenomenal. Testimonial to [trainer] Paul [Nicholls] to have a horse that comes out every season, over and over again, with the same enthusiasm. This is exactly what he is master of.
Meanwhile, Fusil Raffles took home the victory in a spectacular renewal of the Charlie Hall Chase in Wetherby. All the attention before the sophomore contest was on defending champion Cyrname. Returned at 85-40, Cyrname took his usual leading position early on and was still in the lead until Harry Skelton decided to kick 2-1 favorite Shan Blue on the turn for the House.
The pursuer of the second season quickly built a good lead only to go wrong in the third and crash. This gave the rest of the field a second cherry bite and it was Fusil Raffles and Daryl Jacob who took the lead, jumping the penultimate fence in the lead.
He then pulled off the last in style to secure a four-and-a-half length success on Kitty’s Light with Clondaw Castle back in third. Cyrname was arrested before the end and Nicholls reported that his charge had suffered from breathing problems again.
Previously, Paul Webber’s Indefatigable became the third mare in five years to win the 365 Hurdle bet at Wetherby.
As Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park hit its usual flat point descending the back straight, it stayed on for the last quarter mile to finish a respectable third, but the bird had already flown. Jacob had ridden a patient race on Indefatigable, which itself won the Cheltenham Festival in 2020, and entered the race penultimate.