x5 Racing Post NAPs Champion Paul Jacobs previews the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham Festival.
Ryanair Chase Preview
The youngest of the feature Grade One events, this will be the 16th renewal of the Ryanair Chase. In that time, Albertas Run is the only winner to successfully defend his title.
Interestingly, five out of the last seven winners have been seven-year-olds, but its expected that only nine of the 29 entries will be of that age.
With that in mind, let’s take a dive into this year’s betting odds.
Ryanair Chase Betting Odds
A Plus Tard was arguably the most impressive winner at last year’s festival when waltzing away with the Close Brothers Novice Handicap Chase to the tune of 16 lengths. Since then, he defeated Chacun Pour Soi at Leopardstown over Christmas to improve his Grade One form.
With a high cruising speed, a solid jumping technique and the ability to change gear, A Plus Tard has potential.
Many pundits have suggested that the son of Kapgarde should run in the Champion Chase, but this distance is surely his optimum. In time I could even see the six-year-old stepping up further to three miles.
I expect the solid pace that Frodon and Aso are likely to set in this race will suit A Plus Tard. It will give him a lovely tow into the race, but it arises one question. Has the six-year-old improved enough to see off his consistent rivals?
A Plus Tard’s Cheltenham Ryanair Chase Betting Odds of 5/2 don’t offer much value. However, this looks the weakest of the ‘big five’ championship races, alongside the Champion Hurdle. and as such he is a very solid favourite to land back to back wins at the Prestbury Park jamboree.
Ryanair Chade Betting Tips
The current title holder, Frodon, is always of interest at Cheltenham courtesy of his tremendous jumping which has broken the hearts of some classy animals in the past few years. His ability to see out his races with his tenacious attitude is another massive plus.
But the most interesting factor in his armoury this year could be his relative freshness this time around. In the previous three campaigns, he ran 9/8 and 5 times, but will line up to defend his title racing for just the fourth time this season. Plus, being a French bred who has been racing since a three-year-old that has to be a plus.
His last run was hugely promising. Despite jumping to the left at Kempton Park, he readily made all in the Grade Two Silviniaco Conti Chase.
Of those entries likely to run, I make Frodon second top rated on my private figures and A Plus Tard 4th best. Although, the French horse has probably yet to fulfil his potential and could rate significantly higher.
Min is my top rated horse for the Ryanair Chase. However, when jumping at speed, which separates championship races from those during the rest of the season, I don’t think he fences well enough. By far his best run in his career came on the flatter Liverpool track in last year’s Melling Chase.
Aso rounds off my top four in this race.
Nigel Twiston-Davies running Bristol de Mai here rather than in the Cheltenham Gold Cup would be my preference. I could see him sitting on the coat tails of Frodon and then outstaying him up the final climb. However, I think connections are, wrongly, hell bent on taking in Friday’s feature race. If Bristol De Mai ran in the Ryanair Chase instead I would be all over him at 33/1. I recommend placing a non runner/no bet each-way bet on him just in case.
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Ryanair Chase Runners
There are huge question marks now about Real Steel after he blew out at in the Red Mills Chase. The improving Riders Onthe Storm was desperately lucky to land the Ascot Chase and to my eyes prefers to go right-handed.
Un de Sceaux continues to churn out the performances at the highest level, but Frodon beat him comfortably 12 months ago. The 12-year-old gelding is not able to dictate. I think a soft ground Queen Mother Champion Chase challenge would suit him a whole lot more.
Saint Calvados and Dynamite Dollars have a chance of hitting the frame if running career bests. Yet, both are likley to feature elsewhere.
If you are looking for an entry left of centre then take a look at Voix du Reve. If he doesn’t run in one of the handicaps, which is his likely festival pathway, then he could upset the apple cart. The Willie Mullins’ charge was travelling ominously well when coming down at the third last in the 2019 JLT Chase. This was the second time he showed promise at Cheltenham Festival. He first made a name for himself coming to grief in the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle in 2016.
I suspect Chris’s Dream will go down the Cheltenham Gold Cup route, while Janika has plenty to find even on his improved form this season.
Ryanair Chase Prediction
In conclusion – This year’s renewal will be decided by how much A Plus Tard improves. The race suits him with the likeable defending champion, FRODON, set to give him a good tow into the race. However, Frodon looks a cast-iron each-way bet thanks to great preparation leading into the renewal.
I would love Bristol de Mai to run here in preference to the Gold Cup. Not only potentially pay for the extension on my house, but because it is the right race for him.
The Ryanair Chase is on 12th March 2020 at 16:10.
If you wish to place a bet on this race you can do so by clicking on the odds of one of our specially chosen bookmaker partners in this very article. Or you can head over to our betting odds pages to see the odds for the Ryanair Chase and more.
Frodon won the Ryanair Chase 2019 with Bryony Frost at the helm of the Paul Nicholls trained horse at SP of 9/2.
Aso at 33/1 finished second ridden by Charlie Deutsch, while Road to Respect with Sean Flanagan at the saddle finished third at a SP of 9/2.
Albertas Run is the most successful horse in the Ryanair Chase with two ins to its name.
Tony McCoy was on the saddle when Albertas Run won in 2010 and 2011.
Ruby Walsh as the most win in the Ryanair Chase with four.
He was in the saddle with Thisthatandtother in 2005, Taranis in 2007, Vautour in 2016 and Un De Sceaux in 2017.
Tony McCoy is the second most successful Ryanair Chase jockey with three wins to his name. Two with Albertas Run in 2010 and 2011, and another with Uxizandre in 2015.
The prize purse for the Ryanair Chase in 2019 was £350,00 with the winner getting £196,345.
The distance covered in the Ryanair Chase is 2m 4 furlongs and 127yards.
The Ryanair Chase is for horses that are five-years-old and up. The required weight for five-year-olds is 11st 9lbs, while six-year-olds and up can weight in a 11st 10lbs. There is a 7lbs weight allowance for mares.
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