Ryanair Chase Tips and Offers

Ryanair Chase Preview: Tips, Betting Offers and Odds

The Ryanair Chase has quickly established itself as a highlight of the Cheltenham Festival. Here we provide our betting tips for the race and highlight some of the best odds and offers available.

One of three Grade 1 contests on the third day of the Festival, this 2m 4f 166 yards Chase was first run in 2005 and is open to runners aged five and older. The 17 fences around the New Course stand in between the challengers and over £300,000 in total prize money.

Ryanair Chase Tips and 2020 Race Preview

The Ryanair Chase provided one of the best stories of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. The performance of Fordon and the reaction of Bryony Frost afterwards went viral and spread a huge amount of positivity about the sport. That pair are back in the running for a repeat performance this year but it looks a significantly tougher proposition this time around with some very strong contenders among the eight strong field.

A Plus Tard is probably a worthy favourite but doesn’t really appeal at the prices whilst Riders Onthe Storm has had a fantastic season but may find it a little too tough to win given how much he put into winning the Ascot Chase.

Of those at the head of affairs in the betting, Min stands out at 11/4 with Paddy Power. He has been beaten into second place three years in a row at Cheltenham but won’t have to get past Altior this time and has run very well since stepped up in trip from 2m. The best each way option at a big price looks to be Aso who is too big to ignore at 20/1 with Ladbrokes.

Ryanair Chase Previous Winners

  • 2019 – Frodon – jockey Bryony Frost, trainer Paul Nicholls
  • 2018 – Balko des Flos – jockey Davy Russell, trainer Henry De Bromhead
  • 2017 – Un de Sceaux – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
  • 2016 – Vautour – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins
  • 2015 – Uxizandre – jockey Tony McCoy, trainer Alan King
  • 2014 – Dynaste – jockey Tom Scudamore, trainer David Pipe
  • 2013 – Cue Card – jockey Joe Tizzard, trainer Colin Tizzard
  • 2012 – Riverside Theatre – jockey Barry Geraghty, trainer Nicky Henderson
  • 2011 – Albertas Run – jockey Tony McCoy, trainer Jonjo O’Neill
  • 2010 – Albertas Run – jockey Tony McCoy, trainer Jonjo O’Neill
  • 2009 – Imperial Commander – jockey Paddy Brennan, trainer Migel Twiston-Davies
  • 2008 – Our Vic – jockey Timmy Murphy, trainer David Pipe
  • 2007- Taranis – jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Paul Nicholls
  • 2006 – Fondmort – jockey Mick Fitzgerald , trainer Nicky Henderson

Ryanair Chase Trends

It took just three editions of the Ryanair Chase before it was promoted to Grade 1 status. It was already considered a high value target by connections of leading middles distance chasers before but things have undoubtedly gone up a notch. It’s now viewed as a valuable potential option for horses with Gold Cup chances as is evidenced by the fact that most recent winners had an official rating of 160 of higher.

Just as the ratings are a decent indicator for the Ryanair Chase so is the betting market. It takes an almighty and unpredictably good performance for any horse to win this from outside of the top two or three in the betting. Winning favourites aren’t exactly the norm but equally they are far from a rarity.

It’s relatively uncommon for the Ryanair Chase to be the first race a horse wins in the season and any horse with fewer than two previous seasonal appearances need not apply. That said, winning form in the race immediately prior to Cheltenham is not a necessity.

Pay Attention to 7-9 Year Olds

The most common age range for winners of the Ryanair Chase is between seven and nine. Seven-year-olds have a particularly good record but any horse of that age or younger must have enough experience to have a chance. Those with multiple wins over both fences and hurdles are preferred and most winners were making at least their eighth chasing appearance.

By the same token, backing a horse who has already won over at least two and a half miles comes with a lot less risk than those who have yet to prove their stamina reserves stretch that far.

Big Irish trainers including Willie Mullins and Henry de Bromhead have won this race in the last few years but it’s British trainers who have the better record by some distance. The quality of horse that tends to win the Ryanair Chase means that they are often paired with a big name jockey with plenty of Cheltenham Festival experience.

Race History, Top Jockeys and Trainers

First introduced in 2005, when the Cheltenham Festival was first expanded from three to four days, this race was effectively a replacement for and upgrade on the Cathcart Challenge cup which had previously been run over the same distance at this meeting. Whilst that contest was limited to those chasers in their first or second season, the Ryanair Chase is open to all chasers five-years old and over. The removal of this restriction has led to an increase in overall quality resulting in the race being raised to Grade 1 status in 2008, having previously been run as a Grade 2.

The official registered title of this contest is The Festival Trophy but it has benefited from sponsorship in each year it has been run. The Daily Telegraph backed the inaugural edition in 2005 with Ryanair taking over in 2006. Amongst the racing fraternity the race is now known simply as “The Ryanair”.

This trip of around 2m5f is something of a specialist’s distance, so it isn’t too much of a surprise to note that those to perform well in the race often do so again in subsequent years. Fondmort was second in 2005 before going one better in 2006. Likewise 2008 winner Our Vic had been second the previous year.

The best record of all though belongs to the Jonjo O’Neill-trained, Albertas Run. Partnered by Tony McCoy the horse took this prize in 2010 and 2011, narrowly failing to make it a hat-trick when finishing second to Riverside Theatre in 2012.

Two previous winners stand out in terms of what they later went on to achieve at the track, namely Imperial Commander and Cue Card. Nigel Twiston-Davies 2008 winner Imperial Commander took the biggest prize of all when winning the 2010 edition of the Gold Cup. Cue Card meanwhile, had looked a high class prospect when beating a field including Riverside Theatre and Albertas Run by an easy nine lengths here in 2013. Colin Tizzard’s stable star had a number of issues the following season but bounced right back to form to win the King George VI Chase in 2015.

He may now be retired but AP McCoy jointly led the way amongst jockeys (with Ruby Walsh) with three wins in this race. 2015 hero Uxizandre proved particularly significant for the 20 time champion as he was the final Cheltenham Festival winner of McCoy’s career. Walsh was in the saddle for Willie Mullins when – the sadly deceased – Vautour took the win in superb fashion. And Walsh strode off on his own on four victories on the Willie Mullins-trained Un de Sceaux in 2017.

The big yards dominated the first 11 years of this contest. Trainers Jonjo O’Neill, Nicky Henderson, Willie Mullins and David Pipe enjoyed a real battle, each ending up with two victories. But it is Paul Nicholls who has edged into the lead with his third win coming in 2019 with Frodon.

Experience jumping a fence seems to tell here, as 14 of the first 15 winners were seven or older. The only six-year-old to have prevailed is Taranis in 2007 for Paul Nicholls.