ran in snatches, tracked leaders, pushed along going out on last circuit, driven along in 3rd after 2 out (normal 5 out), went 2nd before bypassing omitted last, soon every chance until no extra final 110 yards
chased leaders on inside, blundered and ridden 3 out (normal 6 out) rallied into 2nd bypassing omitted 3 out, led bypassing next, soon strongly pressed, stayed on to assert final 110 yards
Frodon has won around here but is undoubtedly best at Cheltenham and will not get an easy lead with Native River among the opposition. Injury curtailed the latter’s campaign last season so he missed the chance to regain his Gold Cup crown but he landed the odds in this 12 months ago with the minimum of fuss and there is no reason to suspect he won’t prove as good as ever this term. SANTINI won the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase at the start of the year and was only beaten a neck by Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup in March. He is only eight so time is very much on his side and he can outpoint his market rivals in this. Lake View Lad and Keeper Hill are useful but facing a huge task at the weights.
Frodon (FR) 9-2 (11-12) Made all, jumped well, driven out, won at Cheltenham 3m 1f hcp (2) gd in Oct beating West Approach (10-9) by 1 1/2l, 10 ran.
Native River (IRE) 2-5fav (11-6) Mostly jumped well, made all and clear most of way, hit 3rd and 14th, ridden before 2 out, stayed on strongly, unchallenged, won at Newbury 2m 7f (1) gd in Feb beating Secret Investor (11-3) by 2 3/4l, 6 ran.
Santini 5-1 (11-10) Chased leaders, not much room 1st, closed on inside from 18th, unable to go with leaders briefly 2 out, not much room between last 2, switched right after last, stayed on, went 2nd towards finish, just held, 2nd of 12, nk behind Al Boum Photo (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m 2f (1) gs in Mar.
Keeper Hill (IRE) 28-1 (11-7) Always in rear, never involved, rallied well late on to challenge for third closing stages, 4th of 5, dist behind Bristol De Mai (11-7) at Haydock 3m 2f (1) hvy in Nov.
Lake View Lad (IRE) 5-1 (11-12) Led, not fluent 4th, headed after next, one pace and no impression before omitted 2 out, 3rd of 6, 9 3/4l behind The Con Man (10-5) at Kelso 2m 5f hcp (2) sft in Jan.