The Ryanair Chase is a Grade 1 National Hunt chase and is run on the New Course on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival.

The race was introduced in 2005 when a fourth day was added to The Festival. Due to its obvious Irish connection, it is run on St Patricks Thursday, the third day of the meeting and has a generous prize-pot.

Albertas Run is the only horse to have won it twice, in 2010 and 2011, with jockey AP McCoy on board on both occasions.

The Ryanair attracts the best middle distance chasers in training and despite only having been inaugurated in 2005, five trainers have each won the race twice – Paul Nicholls, Jonjo O'Neill, David Pipe, Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins.

In 2018, trainer Henry de Bromhead won it for the first time with Balko Des Flos giving Davy Russell yet another Festival win.

 

Ryanair Chase: Trends & Statistics (Last 12 Years)

  • Previous Course Form – 11/12 winners had at least 2 previous runs at Cheltenham, 10/12 winners have had a previous win at Cheltenham.
  • Previous Distance Form – 9/12 winners had at least 5 previous runs over 20/21 furlongs, 10/12 winners had at least 2 wins over that distance.
  • Price – 4 of the last 12 favourites/joint favourites have won, 10/12 winners have been in the top 3 in the betting
  • Age – 9 of the last 12 winners have been ages 7-9.
  • Last Run – Only 4 of the last 12 winners won on their previous run before Cheltenham, 8/12 winners ran within the last 61 days.
  • Rating – 10/12 winners were rated 161 or higher.

 

 

Runner-By-Runner Guide:

Aso (Venetia Williams)

You certainly do not dismiss Venetia Williams runners out of hand when the going is riding as heavy as it is this week, and she has a very decent nine-year-old here in the shape of Aso.

Third in this race 12 months ago, Aso landed Grade 3 course and distance handicap here on New Year's Day but was found out somewhat in a Grade 1 race at Ascot.

He must have a fair chance again here on a level playing field.

 

Balko Des Flos (Henry de Bromhead)

Held off Un De Sceaux to win this race twelve months ago but has been unable to find the same form this season.

Connections will be hoping that a 76-day break will bring about a change in his fortunes.

 

Charbel (Kim Bailey)

Ran a cracker of a race in the Peterborough Chase in December but has come up short since and probably isn’t quite up to this level.

Best to look elsewhere on this occasion.

 

Coney Island (Eddie Harty)

The eight-year-old was well beaten in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown at the end of last year and has really not shown anything to suggest that he will trouble the principles in this.

His owner is no stranger to having winners at The Festival which is just about his only saving grace.

 

Footpad (Willie Mullins)

Footpad was the star of the two-mile novice chasing division last season, winning all of his races, including the Arkle in fine style last March.

However this season has not been all sweetness and light. The seven-year-old fell on his seasonal debut at Naas before being nabbed late by the veteran Simply Ned at Leopardstown over the Christmas period.

Holds a favourites chance but there are certainly some chinks in his armour to be exploited.

 

Frodon (Paul Nicholls)

An excellent jumper who just keeps on winning and winning. He was victorious in the Caviar Gold Cup over the course and distance before stepping up in trip to land the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase in January.

Looks an absolute place certainty for the very popular jockey, Bryony Frost.

 

Monalee (Henry de Bromhead)

Monalee could quite easily be Rachael Blackmore’s best chance of a second winner at The Festival within the space of 48 hours.

The eight-year-old was second in the RSA last year before starting an upward curve. A second place to Kemboy in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown was followed by a 2½m Gowran Grade 2 victor where he made all.

This is another runner that should be involved in the shake-up.

 

Road To Respect (Noel Meade)

This chestnut gelding is what you could call “Mr Consistency” when it comes to plying his trade in these hotly contested Grade 1 races.

He made an impressive winning return at Down Royal in November and ran a barnstormer of a race in the Irish Gold Cup where he was just edged out by Bellshill.

You have to have the upmost of respect for his obvious chances in this contest.

 

Sub Lieutenant (Henry de Bromhead)

Sub Lieutenant makes up the final piece of the de Bromhead triumvirate but is the least fancied of the trio.

The ten-year-old appears to have been around forever, probably down to the fact that he generally runs in most of Ireland’s top-graded races and generally acquits himself well.

The ten-year-old could easily outrun his odds in this.

 

Terrefort (Nicky Henderson)

Finished runner-up to Clan Des Obeaux last time out at Ascot but was no match for him in the closing stages.

The six-year-old looks likely to come up just short again in this company.

 

The Storyteller (Gordon Elliott)

Winner of the Brown Advisory here last year and has been running some very creditable races in defeat this season.

Davy Russell manages to pull a rabbit from out of the hat every single year at The Festival and this horse fits that very kind of profile.

 

Un De Sceaux (Willie Mullins)

A popular chaser who has showed no signs of his form deteriorating over an amazing six seasons now.

At the age of eleven he can still mix it up with his younger counterparts and the going conditions will be right up his street. It is very difficult to leave him out of any deliberations.

 

Ryanair Chase 2019 winner is...

Many punters will overlook The Storyteller’s (nap) chances because he does not have a string of ones and twos next to his name in the form book this season, but his actual form figures have been pretty decent runs and he is literally simmering up to the boil.

The two lady jockeys here are on horses that could easily contest the top three places and I would just side with Monalee (nb) to make the podium marginally in front of Frodon.

888sport suggests: The Storyteller (e/w).

 

*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*

About the Author
By
Steve Mullington

Steven is a sports and horseracing enthusiast and is a member of the Horseracing Writers and Photographers Association (HWPA) in the United Kingdom.

He is a regular visitor to Paris Longchamp for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and a lifelong fan of the Aintree Grand National, a subject he writes about 52 weeks of the year. Last year he reached the impressive milestone of attending the last 25 renewals of the Grand National.