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The Ryanair Chase is a Grade 1 steeplechase race that has become one of the most popular and prestigious events at the Cheltenham Festival. The race, which is run over a distance of 2 miles and 5 furlongs on the New Course, is open to horses aged five and older. It was introduced in 2005 and has since then attracted some of the best chasers in the business.
The Ryanair Chase is known for its fast pace and thrilling jumps, making it a crowd favourite. Over the years, it has produced some of the most exciting moments in the history of the festival. The race features 17 fences to be jumped and requires a horse with both speed and jumping ability.
Past winners of the Ryanair Chase include some of the most famous horses in the sport, including Un De Sceaux, Frodon, and Cue Card.
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As we launch head long into 2022, the Cheltenham Festival looms into view. Despite being 10 weeks away still, it is now such a behemoth that it would be hard not to spy it on the horizon!
Bet365 and Betfred have certainly spied it, as they are the first firms to offer NRNB ( Non-Runner, No Bet ) on some of the races – and with the entries for the 3 big Grade 1 open company Chases having just closed, now is the time to ramp up the ante-post interest a little.
The Cheltenham Festival 2022 markets are littered with short-priced favourites, some justified, some not so. Allaho at a best priced 9/4 with Sky Bet, William Hill and Boylesports for the 2022 Ryanair Chase is one that I’m not entirely sure which of these two aforementioned categories is the more appropriate.
Banker or blowout, if you will. Maybe the giant Allaho has a hoof in both camps at the minute. His win in the 2021 renewal was something to behold – a pure blitzkrieg of powerful galloping that had all others flailing in his wake.
Put simply, if he turns up again on the third Thursday in March in the same form, then any win bet against him may be futile. But, if you chip a little deeper, then maybe we could find some each-way value.
Allaho did turn up last season off the back of a nice bank of chasing experience in 2019/20/21, with three novice chase runs in 2019/20 backed up by progressive runs that catapulted him to his Ryanair Chase demolition.
Such was the gruelling nature of his reappearance win in the John Durkan last month, it may well be that he goes fresh to Cheltenham this time around. Willie Mullins will surely have him as right as he can have him, but I would take that suggestion as perhaps a small admission that Allaho needs a bit longer to get over the John Durkan win.
So, given there are many horses entered in either the Champion Chase or the Gold Cup that also feature in the 33 for the 2022 Ryanair, now is the time to strike an each-way ante-post wager on Saint Calvados at 12/1 each-way with Bet365 for the Thursday showpiece, safe in the knowledge it comes with the NRNB concession.
Having joined Paul Nicholls in the off-season, Saint Calvados ran an extraordinary race on his debut for the yard in the recent King George VI Chase. Fresh off a wind operation, with the tongue-tie fitted, and with every bit of fizz crackling off him, Saint Calvados lunged at the first two fences as if he and they were on fire.
Gavin Sheehan did well to retain the partnership, and also did very well early on in the race to settle the horse back down – such that, as they swung down the back straight for the final time, there was no horse travelling better than Saint Calvados .
Cue a mid-race move to go from near last to first over the space of a couple of fences, which ultimately put paid to any chance of finishing in the frame, but suggested that Nicholls has happened upon a horse who is by no means a back number.
Given that Saint Calvados was a brilliant 2nd in the 2019 Ryanair Chase, when he split a peak form Min and a certain improving young chaser called A Plus Tard, and off the back of such a tantalising effort in the King George, we are faced with the very real prospect of Saint Calvados improving again for the master trainer.
If he does improve from now until March, which may well come through the prism of a run in the Ascot Chase in February, then we have a horse who can legitimately challenge Allaho – as Saint Calvados has the requisite speed, and if harnessed efficiently, he stays the 2m4½f trip very well too.
At 12/1 each-way with Bet365 , with that lovely NRNB clause, I wouldn’t mind betting that come the day, Saint Calvados is a 9/2 second favourite should Allaho be there.
As the season hots up, let’s get that Cheltenham Festival 2022 ante-post ball rolling a bit shall we?! Here’s to a fun-packed, action-filled few months…
The Dublin racing festival takes centre stage on this biggest of big sporting weekends. There is so much to savour over the course of the two days, and there will be as many dreams furthered as there are scuppered.
Speaking of dreams – Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore will feel like they are living one out currently, such is the level of success they are having this season. Of course, this is no fluke, and testament to their relative abilities as trainer and jockey.
A Plus Tard gave them an outstanding start to last season’s Cheltenham Festival, by romping home in the Novices’ Handicap Chase on day one, and despite beating likely Champion Chase protagonist Chacun Pour Soi over 2m 1f at Leopardstown over Christmas, I feel (and connections more importantly feel,) that the Ryanair Chase is his race at this year’s festival.
A Plus Tard can currently be backed at 5/1 Non-Runner No Bet for the Ryanair Chase with Bet365 or Skybet. I believe this is a no-brainer kind of bet before he re-opposes Chacun Pour Soi et al later today.
Many people feel the Champion Chase should be his festival target, but when you consider he only got the better of a short of peak fitness Chacun Pour Soi over 2m1f on softish ground at Christmas, then the trip just shy of the bare 2m potentially on better ground in the Champion Chase might just see something do him for pace.
I feel Chacun Pour Soi could well turn the tables today, and if so, and as long as A Plus Tard runs with credit, then he could well be shorter than 5/1 for the Ryanair Chase. Barring Frodon and maybe Riders On the Storm, I can’t see too many worthy rivals in the market for that race who will actually run there.