The Ryanair Chase, run over 2-miles and 5-fulongs and 17 fences, was only introduced into the Cheltenham Festival in 2005. It was created for those horse who weren’t quick enough to win the Champion Chase, but also didn’t have the required stamina to win the Gold Cup.
However it has still produced some brilliant champions with the likes of Cue Card, Dynaste and Uxizandre to name a few. Let’s take a look at the 2016 Ryanair Chase.
The market has a potentially great look to at the moment as the first two in the betting may well be Gold Cup bound, so it looks the right time to try and exploit it from an ante-post angle – so here’s what we think of the leading protagonists.
Could go off odds-on if lining-up – but that’s a massive if as connections have nominated the Gold Cup as their number one target.
Don Cossack 8/1
Finished 3rd in this last year after making a bad mistake, but has really came into his own over 3-miles since, and is another for whom the Gold Cup surely beckons.
Sound Investment 12/1
Big improver for Paul Nicholls, and his 3rd in the Paddy Power off 159 was a decent marker. Not ruled out but others preferred.
Last year’s winner was given an inspired forceful ride by Tony McCoy and, though I think Barry Geraghty is a great jockey, he’s not as forceful in the saddle. A double is still a possibility though.
Decent novice chaser last year who was forced to miss Cheltenham before winning a grade 1 at Fairyhouse. A poor run at the 2014 festival, admittedly over hurdles, is enough to dampen enthusiasm at this stage.
Valseur Lido 14/1
Third behind Vatour over a similar trip at last year’s festival, he may well have this as his target despite looking better over 3 miles later in the season, as his connections have 3 high-rated Gold Cup horses.
Ptit Zig 16/1
Was fancied by some to beat Vautour at last season’s festival, but his jumping let him down, as it had done in the Champion Hurdle the previous year. Hard to forgive two poor festival runs.
The 2014 Champion missed his defense due to injury, but looked in good nick when returning at Wetherby last month. Could look a big-price come March if others fall by the wayside.
Champagne Fever 20/1
Festival record reads 1/1/2, and probably would have been favourite for last year’s Champion Chase if he’d started. His stable now have Un De Sceaux for that, and he won’t go off at 20/1 if turning up for this.
The front two definitely need taking-on as they’re probably Gold Cup bound, and both Dynaste and Champagne Fever look over-priced considering their previous festival achievements. Uxizande is only overlooked because he won’t have McCoy in the saddle, but a victory for him would be no surprise.
Dynaste 1 point win @ 16/1 (Coral, William Hill)
Champagne Fever @ 20/1 (Bet365, Skybet, William Hill)
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