The Ryanair Chase was one of the most controversial additions to the Cheltenham Festival, with many believing that a grade one chase over 2 miles and 5 furlongs would dilute the fields for both the Champion Chase and the Cheltenham Gold cup fields.
That may be true but, since its inception in 2005, the Ryanair Chase has quickly established itself as one of the highlights of the Cheltenham Festival, and shares the headlines with the Stayer’s Hurdle on the Thursday of the Festival.
There have been many high-class winners of the Ryanair Chase, including the likes of Imperial Commander, Cue Card, Vautour, and Un De Sceaux, and we’ve taken a look at the ten-year-trends in the hope that they may help pinpoint a potential winner of the 2019 Ryanair Chase.
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The last 10 winners of the Ryanair Chase have been aged either seven, eight, nine, or ten, with seven-year-olds winning four of the last six renewals. The oldest winner was Albertas Run, with the dual winner victorious at the ages of nine and 10.
Winners have been rated between 156 and 176, with the last nine winners all having achieved a rating of at least 161.
Most winners of the Ryanair Chase are battle-hardened horses that have seen plenty of action. The last 10 winners had run between 11 and 28 times in their careers, with the last seven winners having run between 13 and 22 times.
Imperial Commander was the least experienced Ryanair Chase winner in the last 10 years having run just five times over fences, whilst Albertas Run had clocked up 18 chasing starts before his first victory and 21 before his second victory. The last seven winners fall into a similar bracket, having all run in between seven and 12 chases.
The last 10 winners of the Ryanair Chase had all run that season, though none of them had run more than four times before the Cheltenham Festival. Four had run twice and three has run three times.
Previous Cheltenham experience is often a big pointer to many winners at the Cheltenham Festival and seven of the last 10 Ryanair Chase winners had won at Cheltenham before.
Despite three winners having not won at Cheltenham before, all 10 winners had previous experience of the Cheltenham Festival, though only five had previously won at the Festival. Albertas Run won the RSA Chase before his first win in the Ryanair Chase, whilst Cue Card won the Champion Bumper, and Un De Sceaux won the Arkle. Meanwhile, Vautour’s win followed his victories in the Supreme Novice Hurdle and the JLT Chase.
Others to have run in a previous season’s JLT Chase include Dynaste (second), Uxizandre (second) and Balko Des Flos (fell when leading). Meanwhile, Riverside Theatre had finished fifth in the Arkle, whilst Imperial Commander has been unplaced in the Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle.
The King George has been used as a prep run by four of the last 10 winners of the Ryanair Chase, though none of the quarter won that Grade 1 chase over three miles. Three other winners have had their previous runs in the Ascot Chase, whilst one each of the other three ran in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury, the Clarence House Chase, or the Leopardstown Christmas Chase (now the Savills Chase).
Dynaste, Vautour, and Un De Sceaux are the only three favourites to win the Ryanair Chase in the last decade, though they all came in the last five years. The other winners were returned at SP’s of 7/2 (two) 6/1 (two), 8/1, 14/1, and 16/1.
2019 Ryanair Chase Major Contenders
A win in the Dublin Chase would be a new prep run for a Ryanair Chase winner, but this eight-year-old is rated high enough and had run 11 times over fences, but just two runs this season. His previous second places in the Supreme Novice Hurdle Arkle Chase at Cheltenham were also both high-class runs behind Altior. Would have an obvious chance but has a possible alternative target in the Champion Chase.
Seven-year-old who has already won at the Cheltenham Festival and, judged on his two runs this season, could be crying out for the step up to the trip of the Ryanair Chase. He’s also had seven runs over fences, but is another horse that connections may be tempted to run in the Champion Chase.
Eight-year-old with seven chases starts under his belt and it’s interesting that his last run was when beaten in the King George, whilst he may also run in the Ascot Chase. The negative is his lack of Cheltenham experience, with his trainer also having said she thinks the undulations of Cheltenham may not be ideal for him.
Could follow in the footsteps of last year’s Ryanair Chase winner Balko Des Flos by using the Saville Chase as a prep run, and this looks an obvious target for him after being outstayed over three miles when finishing second at the last two Cheltenham Festivals. Has had just two runs this season but has run seven times over fences.
Last seen in the King George when fading late on over three miles and could run in the Ascot Chase before coming here. However, he’s had more runs over fences than most winners and has not run up to his best at three previous Cheltenham Festivals.
Ryanair Chase 2019 Summary
With running plans slightly up in the air for market leaders Min and Footpad, Waiting Patiently having not had any experience of Cheltenham, and Politologue not at his best at previous Cheltenham Festivals, this could be the time to back Monalee each-way. He’s an excellent stats-fit for the race and has given the impression that 2 miles and 5 furlongs could be his ideal trip at the Festival having been outstayed over three miles at the last two festivals.
2019 Ryanair Chase Tip:
Monalee (Each-Way) @ 9.00 Betfair SB, SkyBet, WilliamHill, Unibet, Betfred