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Ryanair Chase preview

The Ryanair Chase is one of the newer races at the Festival but it has certainly been accepted quickly. This year's field is top class and very tough to split. Back again for another crack at a preview is David Plane, blogger extraordinaire.


Ryanair is an airline associated with insufficient legroom and hidden extra costs. Michael O’Leary is a man whose name is synonymous with garish behaviour and a boss who encourages his employees to steal pens from hotels so they don’t have to spend petty cash money buying them.

Thursday’s Ryanair Chase, by comparison, couldn’t be further from the cheap lipstick and polyester uniform donned by the budget airline’s cabin crew. Instead it offers a first class, turn-left-at-the-aircraft-door, champagne-on-arrival treatment, and national hunt fans will feel their punting pillows being perfectly plumped by this high quality field.

Two hundred and sixty grand is up for grabs for 5yo + horses rated 130 or higher, but with 11 of the 17 entered rated at 170 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping, the rules and regs really don’t need to be worried about. Indeed, 14 horses lining up have just 8lbs between them and it’s a hugely competitive affair.

Riverside Theatre took all the plaudits at Ascot when impressively winning the Betfair Chase from Alan King’s grey, Medermit, but with Choc Thornton closing towards the line, I am predicting a reversal of that form tomorrow, and after Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty ruined my day today, I have added personal (and financial) reason to hope that feeling is borne out.

Rubi Light has been successful in Ireland this season and finished in the places in this race last year, but despite 40 gallons of water being poured over Cleeve Hill in the past fortnight, the ground is probably going to be too fast for him as he tends to prefer it boggy. Alberta’s Run comes back in an attempt to defend his crown for a 2nd time, and loves Cheltenham, but Guinness glass half-full backers of Sizing Europe and Hurricane Fly may well be cautious about lumping on another previous winner – and I certainly put myself in that undistinguished bracket – even with a tempting price of 10-1 about the 11 year old.

Noble Prince and Somersby are both ahead of Medermit in the betting, and there is class further down in the shape of Paddy Power Gold Cup winner and Hennessy placer Great Endeavour, Paul Nicholls’s course specialist Poquelin and WP Mullins’s 20-1 shot Blazing Tempo, who is partnered by Ruby Walsh, last year’s top Cheltenham jockey who will be very keen to get some winners under his belt before Bazza G runs away with the 2012 title.

Little Josh is rated well below the others and is deservedly a very long shot, the others are available at around 40-1 (we can’t have another one of those after today can we?) and Captain Chris won’t be getting any more of my money after I tied up ½ pt each-way on him for the Gold Cup in the ante post market.

The Ryanair isn’t easy(jet) to call – but it should be one of the highlights of the week. Sorry – it’s been a rough day!

You can follow David on Twitter, @planey2k

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