The eight-year-old produced what his trainer called a career-best effort to land the Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap Chase under regular jockey Bryony Frost, despite running off a clear top weight, conceding 17lbs to runner-up West Approach.
The win was Frodon’s sixth at Cheltenham, scene of his most famous victory in the Ryanair Chase at the 2019 Festival, and he is now set to return to Prestbury Park in March for a crack at National Hunt racing’s most prestigious prize.
“That was an amazing performance,” said Nicholls. “I thought he might need it a little bit. We thought about the Charlie Hall [at Wetherby] and changed plans as he loves Cheltenham – I thought he had it all to do with that weight.
“That’s nearly a career best. Off 164 in a handicap, giving weight to those horses over that trip.
“Paul [Vogt, owner] said he’d love him to run in the Gold Cup this season and that’d be his aim. I said he’d have to win to put him in the picture.”
On that Gold Cup bid, Nicholls added: “He loves it around here and I’m not going to say he’ll win a Gold Cup but he deserves his place. We’ll work back from there.”