Cheltenham 2020 Countdown: 3 things we learned from the weekend’s racing action

We're excited. And, we just can't hide it. No, seriously.

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Frodon has Cheltenham back on his radar

Frodon hadn’t been at his best on his first two starts this season, but he had been treated for stomach ulcers since his moderate run in the Betfair Chase, and he looked much more like himself under regular rider Bryony Frost in the Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton on Saturday. The money arrived for Frodon late on and he was sent off a strong 5/4 second favourite, though he didn’t need to be at his very best with his main rival Top Notch not on his game.

Frodon was granted an easy enough lead and typically jumped well in front, and he only had to be kept up to his work in the closing stages to score by a length and a quarter. Frodon is entitled to come on for that and will reportedly head to the Denman Chase at Newbury next, which will set him up nicely to defend his crown in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, although he will reportedly have the Gold Cup as an option, too.

Read: Paul Jacobs’ 4 best ante-post non-runner no bet fancies for the festival

Willie Mullins has one for the four-miler

Carefully Selected showed smart form in bumpers and was beaten only a neck in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in 2017/18. He seemingly had a couple of problems last season, only making the track twice, but that could have been a blessing in disguise. A well-made sort (and winning pointer), his future was always going to be over fences, and he confirmed the positive impression he made on debut when winning a Grade 3 at Punchestown on Sunday.

Jockey Paul Townend kept it simple over a trip that is likely to prove a bare minimum, making all and jumping well in the main, and he was in full control when left clear at the last. Carefully Selected was made favourite for the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, but it is worth noting that, under the revised guidelines introduced for this season, he’ll need to finish in the first four of a chase at three miles-plus beforehand to qualify.

Andy Dufresne quickly back on track

It was an up-to-scratch renewal of the Moscow Flyer at Punchestown and the Gordon Elliott-trained Andy Dufresne resumed winning ways in workmanlike fashion on his first start at two miles over hurdles. Admittedly, the inexperienced Captain Guinness – who had made a winning start over hurdles just four weeks earlier – made him pull out all the stops, but the emphasis on speed didn’t suit Andy Dufresne.

However, it looks solid form, with the pair pulling well clear of a solid yardstick in third and, though connections of Andy Dufresne were non-committal about plans, it would be no surprise to see him back over two and a half miles next time. He is a similar price for both the Supreme and the Ballymore at the Cheltenham Festival.

Specific NRNB prices on certain Cheltenham 2020 races are right here