Paul Nicholls was the last British trainer to land the Irish Gold Cup, with Neptune Collonges in 2009, and his decision to send Frodo to the latest renewal at Leopardstown on Saturday adds further depth to what was already a fascinating contest.
Kemboy, who always gives his best over this track and trip, leads the home defense along with Minella Indo, last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, and Asterion Forlonge, who fell at the last when booked for second in the King George on Boxing Day.
Frodo(3.15) was a long way below his best in the King George but Bryony Frost’s mount was taken on for the lead there and should have an easier time in front on Saturday. This also looks like his major target for the second half of the season, and he is a decent bet at around 3-1 to extend Nicholls’s current win streak in Ireland to four.
Sandown 1.15 All eight runners go to post with a chance goal Rikoboy looks overpriced at around 6-1 after a promising return from a 10-month break last month.
Leopardstown 1.35 Five are unbeaten in Ireland’s only Grade One juvenile hurdle before Cheltenham, while Vauban, a half-length second to Pied Piper on debut, will tie the form to the current Triumph favourite. Ben Siegel, an easy winner in a strong time in November, is overlooked in the market at around 16-1 but has significant scope for improvement and an excellent each-way alternative to the market leaders.
Sandown 1.50Goshen is very difficult to catch right but his latest run at Lingfield was his best for a while and this return to Sandown, where he won impressively as a four-year-old, should suit.
Musselburgh 2.05CoolMix generally gives his running and has dropped back to his last winning mark so looks the obvious bet here at around 3-1.
Sandown 2.20The busy man has made rapid progress from his successful chasing debut off 122 in December and can complete his rise through the ranks with a Grade One victory here.
Wetherby 2.30 The betting implies a stroll for Ahoy Senor but Holy Palace has progressed with every start over fences, put up a new career-best last time and has a better chance than odds of 3-1 might suggest.
Musselburgh 2.40glory and honor gets a quick chance to follow up his solid run at Cheltenham last weekend.
Sandown 2.55Born Patriot, at 9-1 shot,goes well on this ground and has more scope than most of his rivals.
Sandown 3.30 One bad mistake cost Linelee King last time and he can make amends here.
Musselburgh 3.45Highland Hunter ran well into second in the Welsh National last time and gets in off the same mark here.