A Look Ahead To The Ryanair Chase - Five Weeks To Go

A Look Ahead To The Ryanair Chase - Five Weeks To Go

With the Champion Chase (2m) and the Gold Cup (3m) the feature steeplechases at the Cheltenham Festival, sometimes the Ryanair Chase is the one forgotten about.

A Grade One over two-and-a-half miles, this race provides the perfect platform for horses bidding to step-up from the minimum trip to the Gold Cup distance of three miles, or because this is their favourable distance due to the fact they are not fast enough for two [miles] or possess the endurance needed for three [miles].

Several have used this contest though to enlarge their scopes and enhance their stamina, including placees Don Cossack and Voy Por Ustedes and winners Imperial Commander, Cue Card and what would of been for Vautour, before an unfortunate accident at the Willie Mullins yard prevented any further progress.

Last season, Balko Des Flos landed one of the biggest Irish gambles of the week when upsetting the 2017 winner Un De Sceaux, the latter who will look to regain his crown this year once again.

un de sceaux

Many of those prominent in the market do have options to remain over two miles - for instance Min, who landed the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase for a second year running, proving is one of the best over the distance around.

However, unfortunately for him he continues to fail to land a blow to Altior in the Champion Chase division, and probably unsurprisingly, connections are getting bored of the same outcome.

Therefore Min has an option in the Ryanair, to follow former stable companion Vautour's success in 2016, who won without touching a twig.

The 8yo had his first crack over a longer distance in England at Aintree at the back end of last year, when just held by Politologue, before winning the John Durkan over the Ryanair distance in December on his first start of the season.

Min is joined at the top of the Ryanair market by stable companions Un De Sceaux as mentioned, along with last year's Arkle winner Footpad.

Things have not really turned out for the 7yo owned by Munir and Souede this term, having fallen when well held on his reappearance before failing to hold on in the Sugar Paddy Chase over Christmas to the late surge from Simply Ned.

However there is no doubt in his quality, and he could bounce back over a different trip.

Then there is the case for Frodon - who although looks set to date with a dream destiny in the Gold Cup, should connections see sense that they do not have a horse who can win a Gold Cup, the Ryanair Chase certainly looks the place for him - a contest he can certainly win.

frodon bryony frost fences cup

Despite just about staying the trip in the Cotswold last time, he was idolling close home and he almost certainly will not get the rub of the green in one the most hotly contested races on the globe in the Gold Cup.

His three wins this term along with his close second in the BetVictor Gold Cup have been nothing short of exceptional and even more so off top weights.

There is no need to ask too much of him, and he would have a realistic chance in the Thursday steeplechase highlight, at a distance of 2m4f which has always been what he has preferred.

The field will not be declared until shortly before the Festival begins, but the one to really look out for and the one we know destined to race here is Ruth Jefferson's Waiting Patiently.

Unbeaten over fences before being brought down in the King George at Kempton over Christmas, Jefferson has certainly been ironically patient with her 8yo gelding by not throwing him straight back into the deep end.

Skipping the Irish Festival over the weekend, he looks set to head for the Ascot Chase next week for his Cheltenham warm-up - a race he won in considerable fashion twelve months ago ahead of everyone's favourite horse Cue Card on what was his final completion.

Politologue, Fox Norton and Top Notch are other British challengers unsure if they have the pace to settle for two or the grit and tenacity to head up to three, so this could be the perfect race for them.