The Ryanair Chase was incorporated into the Cheltenham Festival in 2005, to give those horses who did not possess the speed to win a Champion Chase or the stamina to win a Gold Cup a genuine chance of Festival success. It had its detractors, as it was thought to dilute the fields for the two showcase events, however it has had unprecedented success in producing winners such as Our Vic, Imperial Commander, Albertas Run, Cue Card and Vautour.
The race is run on the Thursday of the festival, over a trip of 2-miles and 5-furlongs, with 17 fences to be jumped. Winners have been aged 6 to 9, with 7, 8 and 10-year-old winning 3 renewals each. Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls have both trained 2 winners, whilst Vautour was the first Irish-Trained winner last year. Ruby Walsh has ridden 3 winners.
Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting runners.
Black Hercules 7/1
The form of his win in last season’s JLT has yet to be massively boosted, but he did win that contest by 3-lengths, and his trainer Willie Mullins is the current King of the Cheltenham Festival. This looks an obvious target for him, but he still has a few pounds to find on form with a few of his more likelier opponents.
Vroum Vroum Mag 8/1
The Mullins Super Sub could dot-up in this, but she’s entered in everything from the Champion Hurdle to the Gold Cup, and it’s impossible to recommend a bet on her for any race at the moment.
Valseur Lido 12/1
Couldn’t live with Vautour and Road To Riches in the early part of last year’s renewal, but ran on late to pip the latter of those two for third. Started the season in brilliant form over 3-miles though and, surely, connections will let him take his chance in the Gold Cup this season.
Un Des Sceaux 12/1
It’s hard to believe that he was trading at odds-on for the Champion Chase this time last year, and is now the double-figure odds for both that race and this. That’s because connections have stated he may miss the festival altogether, but interesting that he won over hurdles at this trip last year.
Road To Riches 14/1
Third in this last year, and third in the Gold Cup the year before. Either are possible targets this year, but this would seem to offer him his best chance of success. Also, as Vautour sadly won’t line-up this year, he could also enjoy setting his own pace out in front, and that could allow him to save a bit in the tank for the finish this time around.
Taquin De Seuil 16/1
Three-time course winner who won the 2015 JLT Chase, and this year’s Betvictor Gold Cup. Ideally wants soft ground though, and could finish only sixth in last year’s renewal on good ground.
Gods Own 25/1
Seemed not to stay on previous tries at this trip over fences, but on each occasion the ground has been softer than ideal. Also at his best in the Spring, and has stayed on well over 2-miles at each of the last two festivals. Very interesting if allowed to take his chance.
Dodging Bullets 33/1
Trainer Paul Nicholls has said he’s step him up in trip this season, and this looked a likely long-term target. However, he suffered from minor colic when pulled-up when trying this trip at Ascot last time. Can’t be backed with confidence at the moment, but the former Champion Chase winner could be a major contender come the big day.
2017 Ryanair Chase Tip
Gods Own is really tempting at a big price but, with doubts surrounding his stamina, the value bet looks to be last year’s third Road To Riches. There probably won’t be a superstar in the 2017 renewal like Vautour, so he could easily get his own way out in front, and has proven himself in grade-1 on several occasions, including at the last two festivals.
Tip: Road To Riches @12/1
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