Ryanair Chase Tips for the 2017 Cheltenham Festival
Since being elevated to Grade One status in 2008, the chasing showpiece for horses that excel at the intermediate distance has developed into one of the most exciting chase races of entire Cheltenham Festival…
Who won the Ryanair Chase in 2016?
There was drama on the morning of the race after Willie Mullins announced that Gold Cup fancy Vautour had worked badly and was being rerouted to this race. It proved to be a “what if” decision as Vautour duly hacked up in this race in a performance that would have seen him go very close in the Gold Cup.
In winning the race, Vautour became the highest rated horse in training and Ireland’s first winner of this race. Sadly, the horse died over the summer, so we’ll never get the chance to see if he was really Gold Cup material.
How to pick the winner of the Ryanair Chase?
It certainly pays to latch onto a horse coming down from three miles rather than one stepping up from two when searching for the 2m5f Ryanair winner.
Cheltenham is a stiff test and exposes any chink in stamina.
Since the race became a Grade One in 2008, stamina-focused horses like Our Vic, Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander, RSA winner Albertas Run, Cue Card and three-miler Vautour have all won the Ryanair.
Ante-post tip for the Ryanair Chase 2017?
As usual at this stage of the season, it’s hard enough predicting what horse is going to turn up in the race let alone finding the winner.
With that in mind, it might be worth siding with Josses Hill, who has this has his target and looked better than ever when winning the Peterborough Chase in December.
He needs to prove he’s got the consistency to make a challenge at the Festival, don’t go mad but the 16/1 looks worth nabbing.
New to the Cheltenham Festival in 2005 when the meeting became a four-day fixture, the Festival Trophy soon established itself as one of the premier races of the season. Initially sponsored by the Daily Telegraph the race has become synonymous with its current sponsor Ryanair.
Run over two and a half miles, the Ryanair Chase has provided a perfect prize for those horses that lack the stamina of a Gold Cup horse or the speed of a Champion Chaser. However, it is worth noting that previous winners have not been out of place in either of the other two champion races.
In 2010 and 2011, Alberta’s Run provided the former champ AP McCoy with two memorable wins in the race, as did Uxizandre who provided McCoy with his final ever Festival win last season.
Uxizandre claimed victory for trainer Alan King under an inspired ride by the Champion jockey and will live long in the memory as the living legend’s final Festival success.
The race has also provided both Cue Card and Dynaste with their most notable victories in careers so far that have seen both horses promise much but not be crowned champions.
ANTE POST FOR 2016
The current ante post favourite for the race is the run-away winner of last Festival’s JLT Novices Chase Vautour.
Priced as low as 11/4 with some firms for the win, punters need to be careful that the Mullins star chaser is not pointed to a Gold Cup engagement instead as rumoured. Clearly talented Vautour has the essential Festival form in the book with wins in both 2014 and 2015.
Willie Mullins may just be represented by another horse in the form of the very progressive mare Vroum Vroum Mag, who has done nothing wrong so far in her career. She is a number of shrewd pundits idea of a Festival dark horse.
The Mullins grey Champagne Fever is also a likely contender. He missed the Festival last March after being considered a real prospect for the Champion Chase. A winner of the Champion Bumper, Supreme Novices and second in the Arkle his Cheltenham record speaks volumes. The distance will not pose any real problems for the Mullins chaser and if he gets the chance to get in front and dominant he may be the best chance amongst the Irish challengers.
Trainer Nicky Henderson has taken the race twice in the last ten years with Fondmort (2006) and Riverside Theatre (2012). His mare Ma Fillieule filled the runner up place last year and is a likely contender in 2016. However, punters would be wise to consider the chances of another potential Henderson entry Simonsig.
Simonsig returned to racing at Aintree after a long spell away due to set backs and injuries. Described as too fresh for a chase outing on his reappearance, the grey instead cruised round in a two and a half mile hurdle where he was beaten by his stable companion Bobs Worth. That run will put him just right for his chasing campaign that might just culminate in a run in the Ryanair.
The 2015 winner Uxizandre and third Don Cossack figure highly in the betting markets for 2016. Alan King’s horse Uxizandre relished the course and conditions back in March under an inspired ride from McCoy and must be respected. Gordon Elliott’s Don Cossack has looked ominously good so far this autumn and can be said to have improved. The biggest danger to his chances in the race is the likelihood that connections will be tempted to take on the bigger prize on the Gold Cup instead.
The recent Old Roan Chase winner, Sound Investment figures strongly with some firms in the markets, but the 10/1 on offer seems far too short given the quality of the opposition he is likely to face at the Festival. Paul Nicholls’ other potential entry Ptit Zig looks more of a prospect after his impressive Down Royal victory, where he beat Clarcam by nine and a half lengths.
As the season develops and hopes fade of Gold Cup wins, the market for the Ryanair will become clearer. Both former winners Cue Card and Dynaste could re-oppose and have strong claims if Gold Cup tilts are ruled out for them. The run up to Christmas will be a telling time for the ante post markets.
THREE TO FOLLOW FOR 2016 RYANAIR CHASE
- CUE CARD
- CHAMPAGNE FEVER
RYANAIR CHASE PREVIOUS WINNERS
- 2015 UXIZANDRE AP MCCOY A KING
- 2014 DYNASTE TOM SCUDAMORE D PIPE
- 2013 CUE CARD JOE TIZZARD C TIZZARD
- 2012 RIVERSIDE THEATRE BARRY GERAGHTY N HENDERSON
- 2011 ALBERTAS RUN AP MCCOY J O’NEILL