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Ruby Walsh and Frank Hickey have cast their eyes over the Ryanair Chase ahead of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival – where Paddy Power is non-runner money back (NRMB) on all races.
Speaking on the third episode of our special Countdown To Cheltenham podcast, our main men discussed the runners who are expected to be in contention for the Grade 1 contest.
You can listen to the full show BELOW.
My preference for this one is MIN. I can never get away from his performance at Aintree over two-and-a-half miles, that was spectacular to watch. He is a classier, speedier horse than Allaho who is a real staying two-and-a-half miler. He wouldn’t be placed in the Champion Chase like Min was in 2018.
Looking at the rest of the likely contenders, Imperial Aura likes to race relatively prominently and was a good winner of the Novices’ Handicap Chase last year, but he’s coming here after unseating early at Kempton which is completely unlike him.
Saint Calvados was second in last year’s race but his upcoming run at the Cotswold Chase at Sandown makes me question whether he’s a Gold Cup horse or a Ryanair horse. I’m not sure what Waiting Patiently’s plans are. Melon’s going to run in the Irish Gold Cup but he just doesn’t win that often. He runs big races and is ultra-consistent but sticking his head in front seems to be an issue. Defi Du Seuil has been disappointing and Real Steet ran well enough in last year’s Gold Cup but he’s been poor this year. Samcro, best of luck.
Mister Fisher is the only one outside the top couple you could make a case for. He likes dry ground and ran well in last year’s Marsh Novices’ Chase but just got caught too far back in the pack.
For an each-way punt, I like the look of FANION D’ESTRUVAL.
He ran well enough in the Clarence House Chase and was travelling really well when he fell in the rescheduled Peterborough Chase. He could be well worth a little each-way venture here.
Ruby Walsh’s Ryanair Chase tips
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It has the makings of an absolutely tremendous race. Min is the one people have latched onto since we went non-runner money back. The starting price of the last 10 winners has been: 2/1, 9/2, 8/1, 7/4, Evens, 16/1, 3/1, 7/2, 7/2 & 6/1 so it hasn’t been that difficult for punters to find the winner.
But the one I can’t get away from is SAINT CALVADOS. He was beaten by a neck by Min in last year’s renewal. He made a bit of a mess of the last fence and lost at least a length. If he jumped it cleanly he may actually have won.
I don’t think it was a fluke either as he travelled well in the King George VI Chase. If it’s really strongly run I could just see him being held up, creeping into it and picking them all off. When British runners dominated the Ryanair between 2008 and 2014, the King George was a great pointer but the Irish have won four of the last five renewals.
But this year’s could be a decent pointer with Saint Calvados and Waiting Patiently both shaping excellently in that race, and they’d be the two most interesting British contenders for me. If you are going to have a British winner I’d imagine it’d be one of them.
Imperial Aura was impressive winning the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase off a mark of 143 and in the 1965 Chase at Ascot but I think that race was weak. He fell in the Silviniaco Chase at Kempton at the first. Kim Bailey is having a great season and this horse is improving but he is too short in the betting.
I’ve been strong in my opinion that Cyrname is not the best in horse in training. He’s had one or two massive performances but he’s not consistent. He’s just not a horse you can rely on.
Mister Fisher has been quite impressive on occasion. He won the rearranged Peterborough Chase here last time beating Kalashnikov by just under two lengths. A bit better ground and he definitely could run a decent race.
It’s either going to be the Ryanair or Gold Cup for Waiting Patiently. He was held up in a tactical King George VI Chase and found two miles in the Clarence House Chase too sharp. The worry would be he has no form at Cheltenham and struggles to have more than two runs a season.
Frank Hickey’s Ryanair Chase tip
Frank Hickey – Saint Calvados (EW)
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