Frodon became only the second dual winner of the Gr3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup with a tremendous weight-carrying performance in the feature £130,000 handicap chase on day two of The International at Cheltenham on Saturday.
The six-year-old, who captured the extended two and a half mile contest in 2016, provided trainer Paul Nicholls with a record fifth victory in the race and emulated his stable-companion Poquelin, who won in 2009 and 2010.
Top-weight Frodon (11st 12lb), runner-up in the Gr3 BetVictor Gold Cup at The November Meeting, was immediately sent to the front by Bryony Frost and the Paul Vogt-owned chaser saw off his 11 rivals with an exhilarating display of jumping.
Baron Alco (11st, 5/1, Gary Moore/Jamie Moore) joined the leader heading out on the second circuit but could not live with Frodon, who saw off his BetVictor Gold Cup conqueror turning for home.
Cepage (10st 5lb, 12/1, Venetia Williams/Charlie Deutsch) stayed on well to go second three fences out but could not quite get on terms with Frodon, who kept on gamely up the hill to score by a length and a quarter, the pair clear.
Last season’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup winner Guitar Pete (10st, 13/2, Nicky Richards/Ryan Day) made good late headway to take third, 15 lengths behind Cepage, with another two and a quarter lengths back to Baron Alco. It was a cold and wet day at Cheltenham Racecourse.
Somerset-based Paul Nicholls, the 10-time champion Jump trainer, said: “What a horse – he had 10st 4lb when he won this race two years ago and 11st 12lb today.
“For whatever reason, he is improving. I said to Bryony pop him out and put it to them. I was just worried that for the first mile he was a little bit free, but what an engine he must have to keep galloping like that and jump like he did – an astonishing horse!”
“I didn’t know if I could hear hoofprints coming behind me or my colours flapping in the wind. I didn’t dare look, I just kept growling at Frodon and sending him up the hill, praying to God that the line would come somewhere,” said jockey Bryony Frost.