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Ryanair Chase (Grade One)

Updated: Mar 9, 2021

Cheltenham 14:30 18/03

A grade one chase over two and a half miles, a combination of tactical speed required and strong staying ability to last up the Cheltenham Hill.

I’m not convinced by Allaho fourth in last years RSA weakening up the hill. Back down to 2 miles 4 he was then poor in the John Durkan ending that race 33 lengths behind Min. He then went back up to three miles in a fascinating Savills chase where again he didn’t last home and was fourth behind A Plus Tard, Kemboy and Melon. He was shortened massively on the run last time where he won a grade two back down again to two and a half from Mare’s Chase favourite, Elimay. I think that was a generally poor race with those two a long way clear from Annamix. If that’s Ryanair winning form than maybe I’m missing something, but I will gladly take him on as favourite.

A horse with perhaps a season almost opposite Allaho, that would be Min, last years winner of this. He came out in similar form winning the John Durkan. Before disappointing in the Dublin Chase, that day he would only have been expected to finish second with Chacun Pour Soi 2/5 favourite. It was most likely just a ran to keep this 10 year old ticking over with this race his main target. He was pulled up after an uncharacteristic poor jump. I expect Willie Mullins to have him primed and ready for this anyway and can forgive that last run. At 6/1 he would be my bet here.

Imperial Aura is next in the market and I admit I was taken by his early season form on the back of winning at the festival last year in the novices’ handicap. He won a listed chase from Windsor Avenue and then a grade two with Itchy Feet in behind. He was impressive but that form is nothing special with the horses in behind doing nothing since. He then unseated last time out which isn’t normal for him who is normally so good in the air. For me he has it all to prove compared to some of the other proven grade one horses.

Melon is a consistent horse who never seems to get his head in front. He has some cracking form that being said with a third in the Savills chase where three miles was a little too far, again last time he tried three miles in the Irish gold cup finishing a close up fifth of five. I think the drop back in trip will benefit him and can see him running a good race but he has been beaten by Min over the trip previously and have no reason to believe that will be reversed.

Fakir D’oudairies also seems averse to winning having finished second twice as many times as he has won. He has however beaten Melon and the highly rated Ronald Pump who is tipped to run well in the Stayers Hurdle. Most recently he was second to Chacun Pour Soi in the race Min was pulled up in. He will be seen to better effect over the extra three furlongs here but can see him finding one too good as he so often has.

Honourable mentions for Saint Calvados who was second in this last year, but looks set for the Gold Cup instead and also Dashel Drasher who won his first grade one in the Ascot chase seeing off a decent field including Master Tommytucker and Cyrname who was taken out of his comfort zone by Dashel Drasher. I think after that race the trainer wasn’t sure he would be going to Cheltenham but if he did I would be tempted for an each way play on him as well as the win bet on Min.


Selection-

Min 6/1 1pt Win

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