Get On The Road To Riches In The Ryanair
These are certainly exciting times for punters with the Cheltenham Festival looming large and the Ryainair Chase, in which the Irish hold a strong hand, is currently Non Runner Cash Back so now is a great time to get involved.
Vautour Back For More
Despite narrowly losing in the King George at Kempton over Christmas (3m, good to soft), Vautour remains solid at the head of the market at evens. That price has been earned via some gutsy displays over the last few seasons, during which time he won four Grade 1’s over hurdles and fences. One of those came 12 months ago when landing the JLT Novices’ Chase here (2m4f, good), before adding a Grade 2 at Ascot in November (2m5f, good to soft).
Willie Mullins’ 7yo is undoubtedly the class act in this Ryanair line-up, and he will prefer returning to this 2m4f trip having just failed to see out 3m at Kempton. If there is one concern, then oddly enough it is the record of Mullins in this race, as he has sent out seven runners with just one placed – possibly a big enough reason to make backers look elsewhere.
Riches On Right Road
Those who do look for each-way value have plenty of options, with the likes of Noel Meade’s Road To Riches (4/1), who ran a belter when beaten just over 3l in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup (3m2f, soft).
A return to 2m4f saw Road To Riches back in the winner’s enclosure in a Grade 2 at Clonmel on his seasonal return (2m4f, soft), prior to a 12l second in the Irish Gold Cup back up at 3m.
The conditions in the Ryanair over 2m4f on what should be decent ground, look ideal.
He rates serious consideration if avoiding the Gold Cup – remember, we are Non Runner Cash Back, so a chance can be taken if he goes for the Ryanair.
Valseur Need More
There is also Vautour’s stablemate, Valseur Lido (7/2), though he failed to complete the last twice – including when unseated at the last in the Irish Gold Cup – while also beaten 15l by Vautour in the JLT here in 2015. It’s hard to fancy him on that evidence, but the money continues to come for this 7yo.
Mullins also has Vroum Vroum Mag entered at 4/1, and while she is massively respected with an unbeaten record of 6-6 over fences, it’s likely she’ll take the hurdles option.
A decision will also be needed about Gordon Elliott’s 9yo, Don Cossack, who is well fancied for the Gold Cup, but may have a score to settle having finished an 8l third in this race 12 months ago (outpaced before staying on). The overall view is that he’ll go for the Gold Cup, though, where the longer trip will suit.
Can Al Rescue Brits’ Chances?
The Brits will be looking to Dan Skelton’s 11yo warrior Al Ferof (6/1) to provide some home cheer and the 2011 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner knows his way around here. He ran up to scratch when third (beaten 13l) in the King George behind Vautour and should be thereabouts, though he’ll need a bit more than when fifth in this race last year (beaten under 8l).
Vautour is the class act but it’s interesting that Willie Mullins has yet to win this race, therefore pointing up Road To Riches’ chances, who was an outstanding third in the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup, and will prefer the shorter trip this time around.
*Prices correct at time of publication.