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Bryony Frost: Sky’s the limit at Cheltenham Festival

Just a week to go until Cheltenham and plenty of things are still up in the air, including whether or not Frodon gets to take his chance in the Ultima Handicap Chase on the opening day.

One ride I can confirm I’m back on now is Martello Sky in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle the same afternoon, and she’s one I’m really excited about.

I’ve ridden Martello Sky whenever I’ve been able to, but when she beat the former Martin Pipe Hurdle winner Indefatigable in a decent handicap for mares at Cheltenham in December, and again when she won a Listed hurdle for mares at Sandown next time, it wasn’t with me on board.

I’d won on her at Market Rasen in October, and before that in a maiden hurdle at Fakenham last season, and luckily for me Lucy Wadham and the owners – a great bunch of people who race as The Sky Partnership – have been incredibly loyal to me.

The betting for the race is headed by three mares who are all previous winners at the Festival – Telmesomethinggirl, Concertista and Burning Sky – which tells you how tough it’s going to be. But Martello Sky is a high class mare herself and I think only Marie’s Rock, of Nicky Henderson’s, is a shorter price than her among the home-trained runners.

I’ll tell you more about her next week, but she’s a dynamite little filly who loves the track, and I’d like to think she has a live each-way chance.

Fingers crossed for Frodon

We will have to watch the forecast for Frodon, and it’s still a case of wait and see for my other possibilities at Cheltenham. The excitement is growing though, and I’ve got my fingers crossed there will be another nice chance or two.

In the meantime I’m at Sandown on Tuesday afternoon for Lucy, and then at Leicester on Friday for Paul.

I ride Terresita in the Team Forces Handicap Hurdle (16:05) at Sandown, and I’m expecting her to appreciate the stiff finish and also going right handed. You just have to put a line through her last run at Doncaster, as that wasn’t her form at all. Fillies can be a bit hit and miss at this time of year with their seasons and so on, and her earlier form stacks up well.

I rode her when she won first time out at Fakenham, and she’s since been back and won a handicap there and also been a close second at Ludlow. She’s quite a tough girl who is very quick and natural over her hurdles, and she stays three miles, so two-and-a-half on a stiff track like Sandown should be perfect for her.

It will be good to get on some nice ground again and she’s as fit as can be, so she’ll keep galloping up the hill.

Aiming to win again with old friends this Friday

Friend Or Foe is in the CDS Colleague Appreciation Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (14:05) at Leicester on Friday. I won on him at Uttoxeter right at the start of the season when he was having his first race over fences, and he was brilliant that day, winning as easily as you like.

He’s only run twice since and has had a good freshen up, as he likes better ground. Hopefully Leicester won’t be too soft.

Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Bryony Frost
Age: 7
Weight: 11st 8lbs
OR: 142

I’m then reunited with Cut The Mustard in the Happy Retirement Captain Nick Lees Handicap Chase (14:40), and I’m hoping for a repeat of our win over the same course and distance last month.

She’s a technical ride, which makes it fun trying to get everything right, and she was awesome that day. It looks as if it’s going to be a more competitive race this time, but the handicapper has been very fair and only put her up 2lb, so she ought to have a good chance of following up.

One to watch after 80/1 each-way success

I didn’t manage a winner last week unfortunately, but I think it’s well worth telling you a bit more about a couple I rode for Lucy at Newbury.

Scene One finished third in a novice hurdle first time out on Friday at 80-1 chance, so anyone who had an each-way pound on him well done! We were all over the moon with him.

He’s very much a raw talent and he’d never seen a racetrack before, but he handled himself really well. He was taking off and landing at speed, so his jumping was fantastic.

The two that beat him are both rated in the 130s, so it was a decent race, and he ran through the line, which is always a good sign with an inexperienced newcomer. He’ll come on no end for the run, so he’s a youngster to look out for.

The following day Pearly Island finished like a train to take third in a novice handicap hurdle, having jumped better than he did at Fontwell last month, although still a bit babyish and taking a little too long in the air.

They went a nice gallop and he was lovely and relaxed. Once the penny finally drops he’ll have a good future, so we are all very positive about him too. We’d gone down in distance for those last two runs, but on Saturday’s evidence he needs to step back up again. We’ll get it right in a minute!

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