The Ryanair Chase (registered as The Festival Trophy). This Grade 1 National Hunt race is open to horses aged five years and older. Seventeen fences run over 2m 5f. It takes place on day three of the Festival 15th March.
Get ready for this racing spectacular.
This race has a relatively short history compared with the likes of the Gold Cup. We have to go back to 2005 for its inauguration. Thisthatandtother winning for Paul Nicholls, ridden by Ruby Walsh. Readers may remember Taranis won for the same partnership in 2007. This French-bred gelding being the youngest victor at six years of age.
Albertas Run is the most successful horse winning twice in 2010 & 2011 for Jonjo O'Neill and A P McCoy.
Ruby Walsh has found favour in this race with four wins from 2005 – 2017. Un De Sceaux being the most recent winner taking last year's contest in game style. Willie Mullins has won the last two years, Vautour in 2016.
As mentioned, Taranis is the youngest winner, aged six back in 2007. The oldest being ten-year-olds Albertas Run (2011), Fondmort (2006) & Our Vic (2008).
Trainers with two wins in the Ryanair Chase: Nicky Henderson, David Pipe, Paul Nicholls & Jonjo O'Neill.
2:50 Cheltenham - The Ryanair Chase (registered as The Festival Trophy)
Don't miss these Cheltenham betting tips. Let's take a look at a few major hopes.
Willie Mullins may have a few aces up his sleeve. Certainly, Un Des Sceaux is going to take some stopping after winning this race in 2017. This is a son of Denham Red. A French-bred gelding who has won 20 of his 26 races. Total earning over £1m. That level of prize winnings tells a story. He won ''gamely'' last year by just under two lengths. There isn't any reason to knock this horse who will most likely start favourite. Williamhill are best priced at 3/1. Interesting to see how this horse goes in the betting on the day. If drifting a fraction, would be a steal for each-way punters.
Willie Mullins is such a powerhouse that he has a number of entrants for the Ryanair Chase. This number gives strength and depth but it might be an issue for punters interested in ante-post bets. You don't want to see a non runner.
Mullins has a number of possible runners: Un Des Sceaux 3/1, Douvan 8/1, Min 10/1, Yorkhill 10/1, Benie Des Dieux, Djakadam 16/1, Killultagh Vic 20/1, Bachasson 20/1 & Bellshill 25/1. This army of entrants may well be reason enough to wait until the day to bet.
Waiting Patiently could throw a spanner in the works of Irish fans. Ruth Jefferson trains from Norton, North Yorkshire. She must be dreaming of this son of Flemensfirth. Owned by Richard Collins. This seven-year-old bay gelding has achieved seven straight wins. His official rating 120 to 156. This progressive horse beat Cue Card last time out. William Hill have him priced at 3/1.
Fox Norton. Colin Tizzard's charge had been going great guns until pulling up on his last start. Priced 11/2 with Hills, this eight-year-old has something to prove. Each-way backers could still take an interest.
Willie Mullins trains four entrants for Mrs S Ricci who is no stranger to success at the Festival. Douvan is the best fancied at odds of 8/1. Not seen for almost a year after finishing lame in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Min could be a real danger. This gelding sired by Walk In The Park is a 6/1 shot.
The two other horses to run in these familiar silks are Djakadam (16/1) & Benie Des Dieaux (16/1).
William Hill betting: Un Des Sceaux 3/1, Waiting Patiently 3/1, Fox Norton 11/2, Min 6/1, Douvan 8/1, Top Notch 8/1, York Hill 10/1, Balko Des Flos 9/1. 14/1 Bar.
At the time of writing, 28 horses are still entered for this race. You may reap rewards if a few big names take other engagements. Un Des Sceaux looks a worthy favourite. However, Waiting Patiently and Min could be each-way alternatives.