Monday, 8 March 2010

Cheltenham 2010: Ryanair Chase

With Cheltenham fast approaching and the excitement building, I couldn’t resist getting stuck into another Festival preview on my day off. So far I’ve only had chance to look at three races, all on different days, so I’d better pick one from the Thursday – let’s have a look at the Ryanair Chase.

Correctly titled “The Festival Trophy Steeple Chase”, the Ryanair Chase is open to horses aged five or older and is contested over two miles and five furlongs, with seventeen fences in total. Last year's winners was Imperial Commander (right). As the race is relatively new to the Cheltenham Festival, my usual trends based approach will be somewhat stretched. Let’s see how we get on.

As Prestbury Park, famous for its testing undulations, finds a lot of horses out, it seems common sense to start the search for a winner by removing those with no Cheltenham winning form. All five previous winners of this race had won at Cheltenham prior to their Festival Trophy victories, four of which had won over the same distance. Focussing on horses that have already won at Cheltenham leaves us with ten of the 33 to concentrate on.

A race to look at for potential pointers is the Paddy Power Gold Cup. Of the five Ryanair Chase winners, Thisthatandtother and Imperial Commander both won the race en route to Cheltenham and Fondmort and Our Vic were both past winners of the race, albeit not in the same season. Taranis didn’t win the Paddy Power, but did run a big race, leading for a time and he wasn’t that far off in second place, when falling two from home. With this in mind, I can focus on just Tranquil Sea, Poquelin and Our Vic.

This is presumably the same line of thought followed by the odds compilers, as Tranquil Sea (below) and Poquelin, first and second in the Paddy Power back in November, both head the Ryanair Chase market at a best priced 9/2 (Coral).

Of the pair I’d have to side with Tranquil Sea, not just because he beat Poquelin in the Paddy Power with something in hand, form which was franked as Poquelin won the Boylesports Gold Cup from eventual Racing Post Chase winner Razor Royale, but his jumping is flawless and he goes on any ground.

That said, I wouldn’t totally discount Our Vic (right). At twelve years old, he’s no spring chicken, but the best price 66/1 (William Hill and Ladbrokes) is quite insulting for a hardened campaigner who won this race two years ago and was second the year before. By contrast, Victor Chandler and ToteSport are a more respectable 25/1, which is probably more like it. For value reasons, I’ll be nibbling at Our Vic each way.

Ryanair Chase
Thursday 18th March, 14.40
Tranquil Sea 3 pts win
Our Vic 0.25 pts e/w

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