Cheltenham Festival Race Facts – Ryanair Chase
The Ryan Air Chase is the first of two Grade One events to be run at the Festival on Thursday, the Ryanair was partially brought in to replace the Cathcart Chase in 2005 - although the conditions of the race changed slightly with it being open to all horses rather than being restricted to first and second season chasers. The first three renewals were run as Grade Two contests before it was upgraded to its current Grade One status in 2008.
The race despite its short history is already starting to gain some pedigree and has some notable winners on the short roll of honour. The 2009 winner Imperial Commander went on to complete a championship race double last year when landing the Cheltenham Gold Cup and two of the winners underlined their love for the course at Cheltenham in the race. Fondmort, was landing his fourth race at Cheltenham when victorious in 2006 and Our Vic, successful in 2008, was winning for the third time at the course having previously finished runner-up in the race.
It has proved an excellent addition to the race programme and caters adequately for the group of horses who excel around Cheltenham at this distance (2M 5F).
In the 2010 renewal, Albertas Run not only showed his love for Cheltenham but for fast spring ground as he followed up his RSA Chase win in 2008 with a brave win. Given a positive ride by Tony McCoy he made use of his undoubted stamina to come home an easy winner. He can be inconsistent but given the right conditions Albertas Run is a dangerous animal around Cheltenham. Poquelin (second) loves Cheltenham and so it was no surprise to see him go off favourite for his powerful connections over his optimum trip. He looked to be going better than the winner three out but got involved in some scrimmaging off the home turn and in the end had little in reserve to run down the winner. The Irish mare, Jy Vole was going as well if not better than Poquelin rounding the home turn but lost plenty of momentum in the interference that took place on the bend and a scrappy jump at the last sealed her fate. The Irish mare was an unlucky loser.
The rest were fairly well strung out and came home at regular interval – Tranquil Sea and the Henderson duo of Jack The Giant and Barbers Shop amongst those well beaten.
It's worth remembering that out of the past 12 winners and runners-up, 11 had won at Cheltenham before (including all 6 winners). Last season produced a lower-than-average representation of previous course winners (5 from 13) but they were still responsible for the supplying the 1-2 and people should bear this in mind looking at the Cheltenham ante post betting.
Previous course form is vitally important in this race and despite Albertas Run winning at 14/1 last year, the other five runnings have been won horses in the front four in the betting. Paul Nicholls Cheltenham runners in this race deserve plenty of respect as he has won two of the events that have taken place so far and has a good record with placed horses also. The Irish have yet to win this race but they are steadily working out how to approach the race and should be respected.