Frodon favourite for BetVictor after Rising Stars romp

Harry Cobden and Frodon clear the last to win the Wincanton Grade 2

PICTURE: Getty Images Frodon favourite for BetVictor after romp By Stuart Riley 3:22PM 5 NOV 2016

FRODON is the new favourite for the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham's Open meeting on November 12, with the Paul Nicholls-trained novice cut to a best-priced 8-1 (from 12) after victory in the Rising Stars Novices' Chase at Wincanton.

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Nicholls was hopeful Frodon could become a member of his A-Team this season and the four-year-old had the champion trainer channeling his inner Hannibal after he was the only finisher (Shantou Village fell at the last when three lengths down) in the three-runner Grade 2.

"I love it when a plan comes together" was something of a catchphrase for the cigar-smoking leader and it was a sentiment echoed by jump racing's very own Colonel.

"We ran Frodon this afternoon in the hope that he would win and get a 5lb penalty for the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham next Saturday," said Nicholls.

"Harry Cobden will again take the ride and he can claim 3lb in that race so Frodon will effectively have just a 2lb penalty. He has always looked like he would make a nice staying chaser as his jumping has always been his strong suit."

It was a first Grade 2 victory for Codben, whose biggest career success to date had come at last year's Open meeting when guiding Old Guard to glory in the Greatwood.

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Fighting Fifth next for Sceau Royal

Alan King's Sceau Royal, an 11-length winner at Cheltenham last month, continued his impressive start to the 2016-17 season with another wide-margin win, this time in the Grade 2 Stan James Elite Hurdle, and he was cut for the Champion Hurdle at the festival.

His task was made easier when Zubayr fell at the last, when looking held, and the winner's price now ranges from 12-1 to a best-priced 20-1 for the showpiece on day one of the Cheltenham Festival and King revealed that if all goes well on his return to Grade 1 company on his next start he could be in line for a Christmas clash with market leader Faugheen.

Daryl Jacob riding Sceau Royal (R) clear the last to win

Sceau Royal (green) was on top when Zubayr fell

PICTURE: Getty Images

"The ground would have been as quick as Sceau Royal really wants but I think we have got away with it," said King. "He is very fast over his hurdles and not too bad on the flat so he's got plenty going for him.

"His next likely race could be the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle at the end of the month but we will have to wait and see how he is a s we also have the option of waiting and going for the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton."

Hennessy hopes

The David Pipe-trained Un Temps Pour Tout was trimmed to 12-1 (from 20) for the Hennessy Gold Cup after getting the better of Mister Miyagi in the Betfred Supports The BTRC Hurdle at Aintree after Zarkandar unseated Sean Bowen at the last.

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"He always improves for his first run as he takes a lot of work to get fit," said Pipe. "He's in the Betfair Chase, where there'll be a smaller field, but the Hennessy is the race we'll probably go for. He will be off his right handicap mark so that seems the sensible route."

Harry Fry's Thomas Brown won the 2m4f Betfred Lotto "£100k Cash Giveaway" Handicap Chase on the same card and he too was trimmed for the Hennessy, whith his price ranging from 16-1 to 33-1.

"He's always gone well fresh – that's the third time he's won first-time-out," said Fry. "He was running over slightly shorter than ideal but we came here because they had rain. He's in the Hennessy and all options are open."

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