The Ryanair Chase (Thursday 2.50) has only been part of the Cheltenham Festival since 2005. It is run over 2-miles and 5-furlongs, and there are 17 fences to jump.
There are no massively strong statistics, though 8 of the last 10 winners ere priced at 6/1 or less.
8 horses are set to line-up for the 2017 Ryanair Chase.
Reportedly going well at home, but that was the case before he ran no sort of race in the Peter March Chase at Haydock. Going better in a small-field when falling four out at Exeter subsequently, but has yet to prove he justifies his rating of 160.
Ran well when second to Frodon at Cheltenham off a mark of 144 earlier in the season, but never got competitive off 152 back here two runs ago. Now taking-on 160+ horse and up against it off level-weights.
Empire Of Dirt
Won a handicap at last year’s festival off a mark of 142, then started this season by winning a big Irish handicap off 148 with consummate ease, and the form has been boosted since. He boosted it himself when second in the Irish Gold Cup, and easy to make a case that he’ll be the race-sponsor’s first winner of the race.
Placed twice at previous festivals, behind Vautour in the Supreme Novice and behind Un De Sceaux in the Arkle, but only eighth behind Vautour in last year’s Ryan Air Chase. Improved this season, but probably not enough to win this unless a few opponents under-perform.
A second arrow fired at the race by Ryanaiir owner Michael O’Leary but, though progressive, perhaps not as impressive as Empire Of Dirt.
Un De Sceaux
Top-rated by 7lb, and has plenty of high-class form in the book. Usually races at 2-miles, but has won both of his races at around this distance. Would prefer softer ground, but stepping-up in trip should allow him to travel easier, if Ruby Walsh can settle him early.
Absent for 22-months after winning the 2015 Ryanair Chase, but ran a stormer behind Un De Sceaux here over 2-miles in January on his return from injury. 2½-miles will suit him much better and, it will be interesting to see if he takes on Un De Sceaux for the early lead. Mark Walsh riding him for the first time is a small negative.
Three-times runner-up here over hurdles, and looked likely to be second to Douvan in last year’s Arkle when unseating. This trip on decent ground should suit, but has 15lb to find with Un De Sceaux.
2017 Ryanair Chase Summary
Willie Mullins’ and Alan King’s runners have been disappointing so far this week, so it may be worth taking Un De Sceaux and Uxizandre on with the progressive Empire Of Dirt with the Gordon Elliott runners flying this week.