Ryanair Gold Cup
The big English Festivals of Cheltenham and Aintree may be over by the time Easter rolls around, but you can always count on the Irish to keep things ticking over.
The Easter weekend marks the start of the annual four day racing feast at Fairyhouse. Here we take a look at the best odds and offers and provide our betting tips for the Easter Sunday highlight of the Ryanair Gold Cup.
This Grade 1 Novice Chase was first run at Fairyhouse in 1960. Featuring 16 fences over its 2m4f trip, the event is open to chasers aged five and older and now offers €100,000 in total prize money.
Ryanair Gold Cup Tips and Race Preview 2019
Easter weekend is traditionally one of the biggest weekends in Irish sport and racing fans have a whole lot of top class action to enjoy in the coming days. Fairyhouse has an excellent card of racing on Easter Sunday itself which is headlined by the Ryanair Gold Cup.
Run over 2 miles 4 furlongs, the Ryanair Gold Cup is a Grade 1 contest which has been won by stars of National Hunt racing including Arkle and recently had a major boost to its reputation as last year’s winner Al Boum Photo went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
A Plus Tard to Make the Most of His Allowance
It has been decades since a five-year-old won the Ryanair Gold Cup. Although it’s a race for novice chasers, the vast majority of race winners since 1960 have been aged at least six. The organisers are very keen to ensure that connections of the leading younger novice chasers in training aren’t put off competing so five-year-olds get a 4lb allowance.
A Plus Tard is the only five-year-old in the field for the 2019 renewal but the bookies believe he will make the most of that advantage as he is the favourite for the Ryanair Chase at odds of 2/1 with Paddy Power.
The trends may suggest that price is a little short but A Plus Tard’s performances this season do not, with a dominant win in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival the clear highlight.
Henry De Bromhead’s charge has now amassed a wealth of experience in big field races which will stand him in good stead in the Ryanair Gold Cup. De Bromhead will hope that the ground doesn’t dry out too quickly at Fairyhouse as yielding is about as firm as A Plus Tard would like it. Even with that slight concern, he has the quality to justify his position at the head of the betting.
Hardline Worth Chancing Again
Hardline was, for many racing fans, one of the big disappointments of the Cheltenham Festival. His failure may not quite have made the splash of Apple’s Jade or Buveur d’Air but the seven-year-old was well fancied to win the Arkle and was never anywhere near in contention.
Gordon Elliott and the Gigginstown team still believe Hardline has what it takes to become a high class chaser and Davy Russell suggested that something was amiss with the horse at Cheltenham. Whatever that problem was it has surely been sorted at home or else Hardline would not be competing at Fairyhouse.
A fit and happy Hardline has more than enough class to see off the challenge of the competition he’ll face on Easter Sunday. Whether we’ll see the best of him stepped back up to two and a half miles remains to be seen but the odds of 8/1 that Betfair are quoting about his chances is tempting enough to find out.
Previous Race Winners
- 2018 – Al Boum Photo – jockey David Mullins, trainer Willie Mullins
- 2017 – Road To Respect – jockey Bryan Cooper, trainer Noel Meade
- 2016 – Kylemore Lough – jockey Barry Geraghty, trainer Kerry Lee
- 2015 – Gilgamboa – jockey Tony McCoy, trainer Enda Bolger
- 2014 – Rebel Fitz – jockey Barry Geraghty, trainer Michael Winters
- 2013 – Realt Mor – jockey Davy Condon, trainer Gordon Elliott
- 2012 – Flemenstar – jockey Andrew Lynch, trainer Peter Casey
- 2011 – Realt Dubh – jockey Paul Carberry, trainer Noel Meade
- 2010 – Jadanil – jockey Andrew Lynch, trainer Paul John Gilligan
- 2009 – Aran Concerto – jockey Paul Carberry, trainer Noel Meade
- 2008 – Conna Castle – jockey Paul Carberry, trainer Jimmy Mangan
- 2007 – One Cool Cookie – jockey David Casey, trainer Charlie Swan
Ryanair Gold Cup History
First run back in 1960, this race is now firmly established in the Irish racing calendar and each year provide the Easter Sunday highlight of Fairyhouse’s fabulous four day Easter meeting. This contest was a 2m2f affair until as recently as 1994 when the distance was first increased to 2m4f.
Initially sponsored by the makers of Powers Whisky, the contest was known to racing fans as the Powers Gold Cup for many a year. It is the airline company Ryanair however who are the official sponsors of the race these days, with Michael O’Leary’s firm expanding their support of racing to encompass this race in 2015.
The greatest winner in the early years of this race was one of the greatest racehorses of all time: The mighty Arkle. Victorious here in 1963, Tom Dreaper’s pride and joy also notched up three Cheltenham Gold Cup’s, a King George, two Hennessy’s, an Irish Grand National and more in what was a truly spectacular career. Now firmly enmeshed in the folklore of Irish Jumps racing, Arkle’s skeleton has a permanent home at the Irish National stud.
But for the presence of Arkle, the standout winner in the first twenty years of the race would undoubtedly have been Pat Taaffe’s, Captain Christy. The winner of both the Scottish and Irish Champion Hurdles, this one showed his talent and versatility by winning two King George’s, a Cheltenham Gold Cup and this race in 1974.
Like-A-Butterfly had a few big days for owner J P McManus and trainer Christy Roche. Having landed the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Irish Champion Hurdle earlier in her career, the talented mare enjoyed something of a renaissance year in 2005, winning both this race and the Mildmay Novices’ Chase. At eleven years of age at the time of her win here, she is the oldest winner in the history of the race.
Tom Dreaper may have trained the most talented winner, but it is another Dreaper who leads the way when it comes to the number of winners of the race. Starting with Vulforo in 1973 and culminating with Merry Gale in 1994, Jim Dreaper recorded five wins in all to lead the way amongst the handlers.
Paul Carberry didn’t ride his first winner in this until partnering Thari to victory for Noel Meade in 2003. By 2011 though he was out in front as the leading jockey in the history of the race with four wins.