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The From The Horse’s Mouth team took a close look at the Ryanair Chase and top trader Frank Hickey has picked out Saint Calvados with just a month until the Festival.
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“Saint Calvados is entered in the Ascot Chase this weekend. He hasn’t won since winning a handicap at Cheltenham in October 2019 but he has only ran six times in the interim. He was touched off in a Cheltenham handicap off 157 by Oldgrangewood and was beaten a neck in the 2020 Ryanair by Min where he probably should have won. A Plus Tard was third and Frodon was fourth.
“He travelled really well in the last two King George’s but didn’t get home on either occasion. He was third this year and fourth the previous year but he did get a particularly poor ride this time round. This looks his trip and he’s versatile enough with regards to ground, though he would prefer plenty of cut. He looks the danger to Allaho and we wouldn’t need Allaho to underperform by too much to turn him over.
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“Shan Blue was sixth in Envoi Allen’s Ballymore and was fifth in the Marsh last year when going for home far too early. He was well behind Chantry House at Aintree when stepped up to 3m. He looked like he was going to bolt up in the Charlie Hall when he fell three out but that race hasn’t worked out very well and it’s a big ask to come to this race off a four and a half month break off the back of a heavy fall.
“Envoi Allen looked top class but after the fall in last year’s Marsh, the wheels have come off. He pulled up at Punchestown and won a really substandard renewal of a Grade 2 at Down Royal. He was a well beaten sixth in the John Durkan and was all out to win a weak renewal of the Paddy’s Reward Club Chase at Christmas. He has loads to prove and I couldn’t have him at the moment.
“There didn’t appear to be any fluke about Conflated’s win in the Irish Gold Cup and maybe he is just a late developer. He could go the Gold Cup route but you couldn’t rule him out if he’s running here.
“Eldorado Allen was well backed when landing the Denman Chase at the weekend and has been running consistently this season but that was a season’s best. He had won the Haldon Gold Cup off 151 and was third in the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase and second behind Mister Fisher in the Grade 2 Silviniaco Chase at Kempton. He might be supplemented for the Gold Cup if the owners get their way.
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“Fakir D’Oudairies is still only a seven-year-old and was a 12l second to Allaho last year. He finished fourth in a Supreme as a juvenile, second in an Arkle and second in a Ryanair, as well as winning a Triumph Trial at Cheltenham, so he does have good course form. He was impressive in the Melling Chase but slightly disappointing in the Punchestown Gold Cup when a well beaten third and was well beaten twice by Allaho this season. He has a bit to prove but he’s sure to peak for this race.
“If Allaho repeats the level of performance that he produced last year, he won’t be beaten but as exceptional as he was last year, it must be doubtful that he will run to that high level again. If he is 5 or 6lb below that level this year, it does give a few others the chance of causing an upset and top of that list for me would have to be Saint Calvados. He probably should have won this race in 2020 and has shaped like the best horse in the race in the last two King George’s but ultimately didn’t have the stamina for the trip.”
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change
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