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Bryony Frost: Paul Nicholls will be hard to catch in Trainers’ Championship

We’ve all been enjoying the unusually warm weather but it can only mean one thing so far as racing is concerned and that’s small fields, owing to the drying ground.

Things tend to go quiet for this fortnight period between Cheltenham and Aintree and then the last drive to Sandown before the change over from winter horses to summer runners happen.

Expect to see me at Ayr or Newbury this week

With temperatures locally touching 20 degrees last week apparently the ground has dried up quicker than ever this year, and although Paul (Nicholls) is still having runners – and winners – I don’t think I’ll be riding until towards the end of the week, when he has lots of entries at Newbury and Ayr, which are both two-day meetings.

Wherever Paul sends me is where I’ll go, and I’d be very happy to be at either, but it will be cool if it’s Ayr as it’s one of the few courses at which I’ve still yet to ride and it would be fun to have a good walk round the track and then tick it off.

Lucy Wadham has entries at Newbury too, with Pearly Island a young horse who has started to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

There’s a lot of talk in the papers about the Trainers’ Championship, which is a very important target for the yard every season, along with big winners of course.

Paul is in pole position, with a lead of around GBP160,000 over Nicky Henderson, and having kept his powder dry at Cheltenham because of the ground and weather he’s got a lot of horses who are fresh and well for Ayr, Aintree and finally Sandown. With big cards still to play I think Paul will be hard to catch.

If I’m not riding every day it means I’ll struggle to get to 50 wins this season, but I’ll keep kicking. I had 50 winners in the 2018-19 season, which was the season Frodon won the Ryanair Chase, but I ended in the high 40s the next two seasons with added injury time and that’s maybe where I’m headed again now as I’m on 43 now. Either way, the season is all year around so we just keep rolling.

I’m not complaining anyway. Any season I win two Grade 1s, as I have done on Frodon and Greaneteen (picture above), is a good season in my book.

We’ll keep knocking on the door

I’ve had loads hit the frame lately and I’ve been knocking on the door, including on Grange Road at Hereford on Friday and then Hurricane Bay at Stratford on Saturday.

I thought Grange Road ran very well in second behind Gris Majeur, who looks quite nice, and Hurricane Bay took a big step forward in third behind Lightfoot Lady, an unknown quantity of Nicky Henderson’s.

Hurricane Bay has bright future

Hurricane Bay had been keen at Kempton on his previous start so we decided to make the running, and that made him a lot more manageable. He kept coming on again after he had been headed and that’s great to see in a young horse. A horse who will gallop through the line is a horse who will win races.

Time out to relax and catch up

While the gorgeous weather has meant fewer rides, it’s left me free to do other fun things in the afternoons and I’ve been enjoying a bit of mountain biking. You have to get your adrenaline buzz somewhere!

It’s great fun and I used to do it a lot with my brother Hadden, who many of you will remember from his riding career here, as a successful apprentice on the Flat and then over jumps, including on Buena Vista in the 2010 Pertemps Final.

Hadden is coming over from America next month, which is really exciting. I haven’t seen him for two years because of Covid, and he’s bringing his fiancee Bethany, who I’ve never met.

He’s forging a new career in show jumping and he’s really enjoying his life out there. Two of his horses are competing at Grand Prix level, which would be like our Grade 1s, so he’s doing epic to already be at that level.

I’m looking forward to seeing them on Good Friday, which is one of the few days when there is no jumps racing. That’s one day when for once I won’t mind not having a ride!

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