Cheltenham staged the first two days of its season on Friday and Saturday with Rouge Vif and Frodon producing stellar performances to win their respective handicaps off marks of 156 and 164. The former had run well in the Arkle Trophy in March on ground which was considered too soft for Harry Whittington's lightly raced chaser. However, he relished the underfoot conditions on Friday jumping brilliantly before running on too strongly to beat some useful rivals by upwards of seven and a half lengths. Depending on the underfoot conditions, the six year old could return to the track next month for the Grade 2 Shloer Chase. The ground will dictate his future plans though.
Frodon recorded his sixth win at Cheltenham as he fended off his opponents to win the staying handicap chase on Saturday by a length and a half. Despite the fact he is a previous Ryanair Chase winner, his connections believe he wants a longer trip nowadays and he had no trouble seeing out the three miles one here. The eight year old has formed a formidable partnership with Bryony Frost and the pair were never going to be denied. A well beaten third of four in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last season, it will be interesting to see where he heads next. He has been a tremendous horse for Team Ditcheat.
Readers of One Jump Ahead will be aware that Henrietta Knight contributed for the first time since relinquishing her licence this season and the three times Gold Cup winning trainer came up trumps on Saturday when highlighted the unraced I Am Maximus as a horse to follow. Bought on behalf of owner Mike Grech, the gelded son of Authorized was well supported before his debut in the concluding bumper and he duly scored by a length and three quarters. The Listed bumper in less than a month over the same C&D could be next for this most promising four year old.
I am working at Aintree on Sunday with the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase providing the highlight. I will therefore be back to update the Diary early next week.
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