THE summer’s gone — and Halloween is here so that means one thing . . . Frodon’s ready to rock.
We’re back together for an incredible 19th time today, when his season begins at Down Royal, in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase.
And to say I’m excited doesn’t even come close!
It’s the first time I’ve ridden in a professional race in Ireland, — and it will be the first time over there for him as well.
Make no mistake, he’s certainly fit and ready for it, too. We did a piece of work a couple of weeks ago and when I pulled up I had goosebumps. There’s not many you get that with.
I know we’re up against Minella Indo, who beat us at the Festival, but Frodon will give it everything. He doesn’t know any other way — and if that’s good enough, it’s good enough.
But really we’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Going away to ride Frodon in Ireland . . . it’s just awesome. Me and him against the world.
And it will be so cool to see what reaction he gets because he’s become a household name over here to some extent. I am sure the fans there will give him a great reception win or lose.
They know their horses over there and it’s a rare chance for them to see one of our horses up close and personal on their own turf. The race will be a cracker for them as it is not often you get a Gold Cup winner versus a King George winner.
As I say, it’s actually the first time Frodon’s made a trip across the sea since he was younger, when came over from France, so that’s something of an unknown.
But he’s very independent so I don’t think he’ll worry about leaving his neighbours behind.
Shelley — who looks after him every day — went over with him on Thursday, so he’s got a familiar face with him.
Kevin, who does a lot of the driving, went too and his owner Mr Vogt and his family are going, so we’ll have our own little gang.
I flew out yesterday, and will be at the track first thing to take him for a leg stretch and some fresh air. He will be full of himself and it will be a case of . . . ‘Bryony, don’t get bucked off and let him go gallivanting around Down Royal by himself!’
Then I’ll walk the track a couple of times just to take a look at the fences and see how the ground is. After that I will try to relax. I’ll listen to some music and vibe out for a bit. Maybe even have a power nap.
The track were very good in organising his stable, it’ll be like a five-star hotel, with a fresh bed of shavings waiting for him because he loves a roll.
He’s a real joker as well. When you give him the brush while you’re tacking him up, he’ll swing it around. It stops him chewing his reins, and let me say they are a necessary bit of equipment because, boy, can he dribble! He could slobber for England!
Kate Nutt, our head travelling lass, snuck a bucket load of polo mints in his suitcase — I just hope it got through customs!
I’ve told you before how I feel about Frodon, because basically he’s made me. Without him my life wouldn’t be what it is.
He has given me my best days in racing. Winning the Ryanair was fantastic. I didn’t think it would get better but it did when we won the King George. Amazing days.
I owe him more than just my career . . . he’s helped shape me as a character.
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It’s his love of life and enthusiasm which gets you. It’s infectious.
You see some young horses or young people who have it but then, over time, it fades.
The novelty wears off and big days become — as bad as it sounds — more like just normal ones.
Well not with Frodon they don’t — he is nine now yet he thrives off day-to-day life better than anything or anyone.
Everyone who is lucky enough to have met him, loves him. He pulls you into his bubble and you can’t help yourself but join in.
And he’s just so outrageously good over his fences.
If I have an opinion, he shuts me down with a snap of his hoof in front of the fence.
He’s very clever. He has a way of attacking the fences, or shortening up at short notice to make sure he’s up, over and away. It’s your job to sit tight and sit quiet.
He’s a right chatterbox too — just like me! Probably too much, if you ask some people actually!
So once again, we’ll go out and kick as hard as we can, and we’ll know very early on if it’s happening for us or not.
Paul will be watching on from Wetherby, because he’ll be there with Cyrname, who’s running in the Charlie Hall.
It’s great Paul targeted this race. He loved it when Clan Des Obeaux went over to Ireland last season and won their biggest race, the Punchestown Gold Cup — especially after the battering the Irish gave us at Cheltenham.
It would be great if we could come home with another of the best races.
Paul is brilliant to ride for because, if he employs you, he trusts your instincts, so if it’s happening too fast, we will just sit and suffer.
But Frodon and I know each other well, we know our scope and our limits, so let’s see what happens.
Incidentally, I got to sit on Cyrname this week for the first time and he was awesome. He’s so big and long, there’s so much mane and neck in front of you.
It took me a couple of jumps to figure him out and then I just got some awesome leaps. I can see how he gives his jockeys such a thrill. I believe this year we’ll Cyrname back to his best.
Fingers crossed for the team all over Britain . . . and let’s see if we can fly the flag in Ireland.
Win, lose or draw, riding Frodon is just a privilege.
Interview by Phil Thomas.
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