The Ryanair Chase is one of the newest races at the Cheltenham Festival having only being implemented into the Festival in 2005.
It takes place on the New Course, and is run over 2 miles 5 furlongs and 17 fences on the Thursday.
It was introduced to provide an intermediary race between the 2-mile Champion Chase and the 3-mile 2-furlong Gold Cup, and traditionally attracts a strong field, though many think its introduction diluted the two main championship chases.
Trainers Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls, David Pipe and Jonjo O’Neill have all won it twice, whilst AP McCoy and Ruby Walsh have both ridden two winners. Albertas Run is the only horse to have won it twice, and no Irish trained horse has won the race.
Age doesn’t seem overly important with three 8-year-olds, two 9-year-olds, three 10-year-olds, one 7-year-old and one 6-year-old being successful.
Here’s our analysis and horse racing tips for the Ryan Air Chase:
Cossack Dancer 4/1
He’s long been the apple of his trainer’s eye, and his form has reached a new height this season in winning four consecutive graded races. He also looked to be getting the measure of Champagne Fever last-time when that rival fell at the last. Negatives are he fell in last year’s RSA Chase and he’s Irish trained.
Cue Card 7/1
Won this race in 2013, but hasn’t looked the same horse since returning from an injury he sustained before he was due to run in last year’s Gold Cup. Good ground may aid his cause, and his trainer Colin Tizzard knows how to win at the Festival, but the jury is out to whether he can return to his former glories.
Champagne Fever 10/1
Competed over 2-miles at the last three Cheltenham Festivals, and may well do so again, in the Champion Chase, with doubts surrounding Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy.
John’s Spirit 10/1
Finished first and second in the last two Paddy Power Gold Cups, however those runs were on the old course and he’s yet to sparkle on the new course.
Balder Succes 12/1
His trainer Alan King has always stated that he thinks his charge is better on a flat-track and much of his form suggests he is. However, he’s only been tried at this trip twice over fences – and won both times. He has definite possibilities.
Was well-fancied for last season’s RSA Chase but weakened into fourth after travelling like a winner for much of the 3-mile trip. The fact he is unbeaten in his five starts in races between 20-furlongs and 22-furlongs, and would have won the other but for falling, suggests he’ll play a major part here – and looks over-priced despite being Irish trained. Likely mount of Ruby Walsh.
Al Ferof 14/1
His trainer Paul Nicholls has hinted his charge might line-up in the Champion Chase, but Al Ferof’s last three victories have all come at this sort of trip. Nicholls also doesn’t look to have a stronger candidate for this – and will look overpriced if he takes his chance.
Taquin De Seuil 16/1
Won the JLT novices chase at last year’s festival, over a similar distance, and again travelled well over 3-miles last-time until fading late-on. Looks sure to enjoy the return to this intermediary trip and has all important Cheltenham experience. Likely mount of AP McCoy.
Don Cossack has every chance but I can’t get interested at 4/1 at this stage. The three that really stand out at the prices are Al Ferof, Ballycasey and Taquin De Seuil and, with doubts as to Al Ferof’s target, I’m happy to split my stakes on the other two – both of whom I expect to be single-figure prices on the day if, as expected, they are ridden by McCoy and Walsh.
1 point win Ballycasey @ 14/1 (general)
1 point win Taquin De Seuil @ 16/1 (Ladbrokes, Hills, Bet Victor)