The Grade 1 Ryanair Chase is still a relatively new race at March’s Cheltenham Festival. The 2 mile 5 furlong and 17 fence chase was first raced in 2005 when a fourth day was added to the magnificent festival. Initially a Grade 2 race, it has held Grade 1 status since 2008 and the winner receives over £150,000 of the £275,000 purse.
There are a host of trends from the previous decade that you should pay close attention to and we have listed the top five-tips below to help give you the best chance of picking a winner this year and bashing the bookies.
5. Faltering Favourites
Since the race’s inception in 2005, only three favourites have delivered a win. In 2006 Mick Fitzgerald guided 10/3 joint-favourite Fondmort to victory while Barry Geraghty led the Nicky Henderson trained Riverside Theatre to victory in 2012 with a starting price of 7/2. And last year Tom Scudamore was successful with David Pipe’s favourite Dynaste, who was available at 3/1.
4. Short Odds Sure Bet?
The favourites may be struggling but that does not mean you should look at an outsider in the Ryanair Chase. Eight of the 10 winners so far all started with odds of 6/1 or less, the exception being 16/1 Albertas Run 2010 with Tony McCoy in the saddle as the Jonjo O’Neill trained nine-year-old eased to the win by four and a half lengths. While Thisthatandtother, the winner of the first ever Ryanair Chase, was 20/1. The last three winners started at 7/2, 9/2 and 3/1.
3. Cheltenham Form
Previous winning form at Cheltenham appears to be another continuing trend with all bar one of the winners of the Ryanair Chase so far having already won at the racecourse. 2012 winning Riverside Theatre was the only horse who arrived without a previous victory at Cheltenham with his only other appearance at the course seeing the gelding finish fifth in the Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy. While seven of the last 10 winners also arrived with a top-three finish in their last race. Dynaste, last year’s winner, was one of the three who broke the rule, however, finishing fifth at Kempton in his last race prior to Cheltenham.
2. After Eight?
Eight of the previous 10 winners were aged eight or above, with the two exceptions being 2013 winner Cue Card and 2006 winner Taranis, who were seven and six respectively. Two of the last three winners have been eight-year-old, however, with Dynaste continuing the trend last year along with Riverside Theatre in 2012. Dynaste was also the 10th consecutive winner who entered the race with no more than four runs since October, with the gelding having just two previous outings last season.
1. Winning Form at 2m 5f
Each the last nine winners all had previous winning form over a distance of 2 mile and five furlongs, with inaugural winner Thisthatandtother being the only winner of the race who did not have that previous winning experience and the race was a Grade 2 chase at that time. There is little to be gained from looking at the jockeys or trainers, meanwhile, with no one with a standout record in the race. Trainers David Pipe, Paul Nicholls, Jonjo O’Neill and Nicky Henderson all have two wins from the first 10 races while jockeys Ruby Walsh and Tony McCoy have to wins each.