We asked Michelle Kramer, Frodon’s groom, a series of questions about her career, how well stable staff look after their horses and how Frodon is shaping up before the big race next week.
Q: How did you become start your career in racing and how did you get the job at Paul Nicholls’ yard?
I enjoyed riding horses when I was young, I went to the local riding school regularly as a kid. I started going to the racing school after school when I was 16, following on from that I got a job at a placement yard in Lambourn.
I tried out working at Flat and Jumps yard but Jumps is where my heart is. I applied for a job at Paul Nicholls and I was delighted that I got it. It’s a joy looking after some of the really top horses like Frodon.
Q: What is it about working with horses that you find so special and rewarding?
It’s very rewarding working in a top yard, you’re working with the best of the best and why would you want to work anything else. I love my job and I love working with racehorses.
Q: How are you and the rest of the Nicholls team feeling with one week to go to the Cheltenham Festival?
Everyone’s talking about Cheltenham in the yard, all the stable staff are chatting about whether their horses are going to the Festival. We literally live for next week, we work all season for Cheltenham week, we absolutely love it.
Q: It’s been a little while since we’ve seen Frodon, how is he? And how is his prep going for the Gold Cup?
Frodon is in great shape, he’s been working really well. He had a back treatment yesterday, the lady that does his back treatment was really happy with him.
He went schooling on Tuesday and everyone couldn’t be happier with him. Holley Evans who rides him said he was absolutely flying.
Q: What sort of horse is Frodon like to be around? Does he have any interesting quirks or a particular treat he really likes?
Frodon is quite a bonny chap, he always likes to know what’s going on. He doesn’t miss a trick and he likes to squeal a lot to let you know how he feels.
On the Monday, if he’s not bouncing with energy then there’s something amiss. His day off is on Sunday so by the time Monday rolls around he’s raring to get exercising.
Taking him to the horse walker, you need to be on your a-game as he’s absolutely full of it normally.
Frodon likes any food, you’ve only got to stand by his door and he’ll ask you for something. If you haven’t got a treat to hand then you’ll have to give him a bit of grass just to keep him quiet.
Q: What sort of training will you be doing with him day-to-day to make sure he’s in the best physical and mental health going into a race?
He’ll have a back physio session on Friday (today) just to make sure he’s in top shape. They all get a check over before Cheltenham just to double check if there’s any tweaks.
He had a little session on the water treadmill on Wednesday, he goes once a week normally. Keeping the routine as normal as we can is what keeps him a happy boy.
Q: On the day of the Gold Cup what would that routine look like for you and Frodon pre-race?
When we arrive at the racecourse I’ll probably give his legs a wash to freshen them up. Then I’ll give him a walk round for an hour to make sure he’s settled in to his surroundings and is happy.
As soon as he hears the first race go on the tannoy, he’ll start getting excited and a little bit of lively.
As soon as I bring him out for the race, he’ll know what’s going on. He gets into the zone, he’s not silly.
Q: After the race what sort of work do you with the horse to help him recover?
As soon as I go to the horse, I’ll scan my eyes along his legs to make sure there’s no cuts that we may need the vet to check. If everything looks ok I’ll walk him back to wherever we need to go – hopefully the winners’ enclosure!
Then when we get back to the yard we check their legs religiously. We wrap them in bandages and put clay on them too. All of this is to make sure they’re all okay physically.
I also keep a close eye on their behaviour and general demeanour to make sure they’re mentally alright. In the winter months we then put their rugs on to make sure they’re kept nice and warm and they’ll have access to lots of water to rehydrate too.