Ryanair Chase Race Card

Ryanair Chase (Registered As The Festival Trophy) (Grade 1)

1st
Paul Townend

Min

Age: 9
Weight: 11.7
OR: 170
J:
 
Paul Townend
T:
 
W P Mullins
always prominent, led 5th until next, led after 7th, 1 1/2 lengths up when ridden after last, kept on gamely, drifted right nearing finish, all out
2nd
Gavin Sheehan

Saint Calvados

Age: 7
Weight: 11.7
OR: 161
J:
 
Gavin Sheehan
T:
 
Harry Whittington
held up, headway after 4 out, went close 3rd approaching 2 out, shaken up to mount challenge when mistake last, soon switched right, kept on well towards finish but always being held close home
3rd
Rachael Blackmore

A Plus Tard

Age: 6
Weight: 11.7
OR: 166
J:
 
Rachael Blackmore
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
tracked leaders, not fluent 2nd, challenged after 3 out, ridden before next, close 3rd jumping last, kept on same pace
4th
Bryony Frost

Frodon

Age: 8
Weight: 11.7
OR: 168
J:
 
Bryony Frost
T:
 
Paul Nicholls
led until 6th, chased leaders, ridden after 3 out, soon held, drifted left and weakened between last 2

Third race of St Patricks Day

The Ryanair Chase is the third race to take place on St Patricks Day and is the second of the three Grade One races on the day.

The race is often seen as an alternative to horses who may to be considered good enough to run in the Gold Cup or horses who perhaps want a shorter distance, with the race being run over a distance of two miles and four furlongs, with 17 fences for the runners to tackle.

There is prize money of £1960,000 on offer to the winner which is one of the bigger prizes of the week. The race is open to chasers aged five years and older.

History of the Ryanair Chase

The race is known for sponsorship reasons as the Ryanair Chase however it’s official, registered name is the Festival Trophy Chase.

The Ryanair is one of many races added to the new revamped Cheltenham festival programme in 2005 when the festival was changed from three days to five days. Before the actual introduction of the race, there was a similar race over 2 and a half miles which was called the Cathcart Challenge Cup however that was restricted to four- and five-year olds only.

When the race was introduced to the festival in 2005, it was initially given Grade two status but was then promoted to Grade one status in 2008. The race has been sponsored by Ryanair since 2006, with the Daily Telegraph sponsoring the first running in 2005.

Recent years

Frodon was the winner of the 2019 race, with jockey Bryony Frost becoming the first female rider to win a Grade One at the festival in the process. The win also gave Paul Nicholls a third win the in race, which now means he’s now the outright most winning trainer after previously being level with Willie Mullins Nicholls’ successes have come with the following horses:

Paul Nicholls:

Thisthatandtother (2005)

Taranis (2007)

Frodon (2019)

Two of Nicholls’ wins came with Ruby Walsh doing the steering and the now retied jockey also rode two winners for Willie Mullins. Walsh’s four Ryanair wins mean’s he’s the most successful jockey to ride in the race, winning on the mounts listed below:

Ruby Walsh:

Thisthatandtother (2005)

Taranis (2007)

Vautour (2016)

Un De Sceaux (2017)

Ireland have won three of the last four runnings, with Mullins and Walsh combining for two of them. Anything that Mullins may choose to send here is worth noting and Paul Townend is likely to step up in Walsh’s absence.

Paul Nicholls won the race last year and with his record, he will also likely have a live chance in the race and it would be no surprise to see 2019 winner Frodon return to defend his title.

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