In the second of our Cheltenham Festival series, Andrew Mount (@trendhorses) looks at the trends and analyses the form of Ryanair Chase contenders. Has he unearthed one at a big price?
Key Stats and trends:
Nine of the last ten winners were aged between seven and nine. The exception was ten-year-old repeat winner Albertas Run in 2011.
Seven-year-olds have won five of the last ten renewals (from 21 runners) for a profit of £17.00 to a £1 level stake at SP.
Eight-year-olds are just two from 41 for a loss of £32.50.
Eight of the ten winners contested a Grade 1 contest on their latest outing, the other pair ran in a Grade 2.
Five winners were dropping back from a trip of 3m or further, two were stepping up from 2m/2m1f.
The key contenders:
Heads the ante-post market at the time of writing but is unbeaten in three runs over two miles this season and will surely head for the Champion Chase instead.
Found stablemate Chacun Pour Soi just under four lengths too good in the Dublin Chase, a race he had won for the previous two years. Three of his last four wins have come over 2m4f and it would be surprising if he didn’t run here. His Cheltenham record of 225 (0-3) is of some concern, though all took place over shorter trips and he bumped into Altior on each occasion.
Accounted for Chacun Pour Soi over 2m1f at Leopardstown in December and missed the intended rematch in the Grade 1 Dublin Chase over the same course and distance because of unsuitably fast ground. He impressed over 2m4f on the Old course at last year’s festival, landing the Close Brothers by 16 lengths and will be a danger to all if stepped back up in trip for this race.
Won this last year under an attacking ride and the Paul Nicholls-trained eight-year-old returned to form with an all-the-way success in Grade 2 company at Kempton last time, despite jumping out to his left. He’ll reportedly head to the Denman Chase at Newbury before a decision is made regarding a Ryanair repeat bid or a crack at the Gold Cup. I’d be very surprised if he takes in the longer race.
Unbeaten in two starts for Nigel Twiston-Davies, accounting for Cepage in a hot 2m4f handicap chase at Aintree before powering to success in a Class 2 Graduation Chase at Ascot. He refused to settle and eventually fell when a 10-1 shot for last season’s Close Brothers, his only previous experience of Cheltenham. Perhaps the switch to a new yard has ironed out the son of Scorpion’s quirks but the lack of Grade 1 or Grade 2 form is a worry for a horse currently trading at single-figure odds.
Held off Kemboy in the Irish Gold Cup and has plenty of Cheltenham ‘previous’ – narrowly landing the 2018 Pertemps Final and going down by two lengths behind Topofthegame and Santini in last year’s RSA. Ten of his 11 best RPR’s (Racing Post Ratings) have come over three miles or further and he’s likely to take in the Gold Cup.
Would probably be a short-priced favourite were this race run at Ascot but his record on left-handed tracks in Britain reads 724 (0-3). He lacks Cheltenham experience and I can’t imagine him running in this, let alone winning it.
Slammed Footpad by 14 lengths in Grade 2 company at Thurles in January and looks a likely runner here. His record in Grade 2 company is a concern – form figures of F504624 (0-7), including two comprehensive defeats at previous Cheltenham festivals.
Hasn’t built on his reappearance Haldon Gold Cup victory but he finished a close second in the Stable Plate at last year’s festival and the seven-year-old remains open to improvement. Quicker spring ground would make him an interesting outsider.
A fine record on left-handed tracks was dealt a blow when he trailed home a 37-length eighth in handicap chase company here on New Year’s Day. He was just touched off in the 2018 Supreme but is hard to support with confidence after his latest effort.
A 33-1 shot when finishing a close-up second to Frodon last year, not the first time that he has gone well at a big price here – he was a 40-1 third behind Un De Sceaux in this race in 2017 and was far from disgraced over an inadequate trip when a 66-1 fifth to Douvan in the 2016 Arkle Chase. He needs a trip of about 2m4f on a left-handed track - conditions that he has yet to face this season – and he could again make the frame at juicy odds.
Won this in 2018, despite connections thinking that soft ground was against him. He’s drawn a blank in eight subsequent starts, including a 23-length seventh to Frodon last year, and is very difficult to make a case for.
In the same ownership as Aso and was a game winner of a Grade 3 handicap chase over course and distance on Trials day but might head to the Gold Cup in order to avoid a clash with his stablemate.
ANDREW MOUNT’S RYANAIR SHORTLIST
A PLUS TARD 11/2 PADDY POWER
MIN 9/2 UNIBET
ASO 33/1 generally
JANIKA 25/1 BETFRED