2.30 Ryanair Chase
Thursday 18 March | Age: 5yo+ | Prize: £350,000
Inaugurated in 2005, the Ryanair Chase was one of several races added to the Festival when it expanded from three days to four.
This is the hardest race of the week to pick a selection in. No doubt about it. I can make a case for literally 10 of them and it looks like being a fantastic race.
Min owes me nothing after last year when he pulled out all the stops to win this race and I'll admit right now that I will have a bet of some sort on him for this. 5-1 is a fair price but it does reflect the strength of the race this year when he was sent off at 2-1 last year.
I have to give a word also to Saint Calvados who I think is a lovely horse but this season's form isn't as strong as others so I have passed him by.
Ultimately my top selection for the race is IMPERIAL AURA who I think is a class act with one blemish on his record – a jumping error in has last race at Kempton in January.
I had the opportunity to speak to his jockey David Bass last week and he wasn't concerned with that error and thought it was a strange quirk with the shadow of the wings of the fence that the horse tried to jump.
He rates Imperial Aura as his best chance of a winner this week and that's really saying something with Happygolucky having just finished a close 2nd on Day 1 as I type this.
Imperial Aura loves Cheltenham and I expect him to go close albeit this is the toughest one of the week to call in my view. I might have a small reverse forecast on Min and Imperial Aura for the fun of it but I wouldn't recommend that as a sensible punt!
Voice of Value's Ryanair Chase Tip
- Imperial Aura 2pt ew at 7-1 with Betfair (paying 5 places)
Last year’s winner MIN takes on a new lease of life in the spring and boasts a terrific record around Prestbury Park in March (form figures 2251).
Min had to dig deep 12 months ago but didn’t shirk the issue when the rallying Saint Calvados and A Plus Tard reached his quarters up the run-in. Frodon was 13 lengths adrift in fourth and A Plus Tard landed this winter’s Savills Chase, so it was a better race than many considered at the time. Min landed the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown on his return and it is probably safe to ignore a rare off-day at Leopardstown.
Stable companion Melon has an even more impressive festival record, despite failing to get his head in front. He looked to have pipped Samcro in last year’s epic Marsh Novices’ Chase but lost out by a whisker. After finishing runner-up in four Grade 1 contests here, Melon deserves a better rub of the green and he clocked a faster time than Min in defeat last March.
Allaho possesses a high cruising speed and jumps well – a potentially winning combination in a race where there will be no hiding place. A tongue-tie is fitted for the first time.
Fakir D’Oudairies hunted up Chacon Pour Soi at Leopardstown 40 days ago and Joseph O’Brien will be hoping his gelding can improve on an Arkle Trophy second last year and a fourth in the 2019 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Imperial Aura was undoubtedly impressive when beating Galvin in the Listed novices’ handicap chase 12 months ago and is a relentless galloper.
Nicky Henderson’s Mister Fisher won the Peterborough Chase that was moved from Huntingdon to Cheltenham and he has the talent to go close in this tougher assignment.
Real Steel is a big price for a horse that ran with credit in last year’s Gold Cup (sixth), even though he hasn’t hit those heights since switching to Paul Nicholls from Willie Mullins. Real Steel may have taken time to settle in and is surely capable of better.
Thommo's Ryanair Chase Tip
- Min 5/1 (Casumo)
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