Vautour is actually entered in 3 races at the Cheltenham Festival and, as his connections are seriously considering running him in the Gold Cup, it looks worth trying to find a decent each-way alternative to him in the Ryan Air Chase, for which he is a short-priced favourite.
Smad Place 7/1
Trainer Alan King won last year’s renewal with Uxizandre who ran his rivals ragged from the front, and it may well be that Smad Place tries to do the same this year. He looked an improved animal on his first two starts of the season before flopping in the Gold Cup, and it’s interesting that he’s always previously looked to be running out of steam over 3-miles at Cheltenham, despite getting placed in both the World Hurdle and the RSA.
Road To Riches 12/1
The connections of last year’s Gold Cup third have Don Poli for the big race this year, and it will be interesting to see whether his owner (also the owner of Ryan Air) tries to win his own race. Would have a leading chance, but aiming a second arrow at the Gold Cup may prove too tempting.
Al Ferof 12/1
Could easily make a mark if lots of the fancied runners run in different races but, despite showing a good level of form, he’s vulnerable to something with a genuine touch of class.
Valseur Lido 14/1
Another possible runner for the Ryan Air connections, but 3-miles looked to improve him last year, and has run all his best races at Punchestown.
Sound Investment 20/1
Paul Nicholls has twice won this with improving handicappers, and his third off top-weight in the Paddy Power Gold Cup showed he’s capable of running to a level that warrants respect in this. However, the form of the Nicholls stable this year doesn’t make you want to dive in ante-post.
Vibrato Valtat 20/1
Interesting that Paul Nicholls says he’s likely to step his Haldon Gold Cup winner up in trip for this, and the slightly slower pace looks sure to suit. However, he’s been beaten in all 4 runs at Cheltenham.
Ma Filleule 28/1
Last year’s runner-up seems to have been dismissed by bookmakers, but she tends to improve in the spring, and she also finished runner-up to last year’s Gold Cup 4th Holywell in a handicap at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival. Nicky Henderson has trained 2 of the last 10 winners.
Soft ground at the festival may well see some of these, and possibly Vautour, turn-up here. However, the ground will hopefully dry-up by and the 28/1 about Ma Filleule may just look an each-way steal come race day.
Ma Filleule each-way @ 28/1 (Betway)