The Cheltenham Festival is fast approaching, and one of the biggest races during the festival is the Ryanair Chase. The Grade 1 race was won last year by an emotional Bryony Frost on board Frodon, as she became the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 race at the festival, and he will once again by the horse to beat.
The race, which is run over two miles and 4 ½ furlongs is one of the competitive of the festival and has many similarities with the odds of the Kentucky Derby in terms of the amount of horses that have a realistic chance of winning. Many of the best horses aged five or over are competing on it.
However, which horse will cross the line after 17 fences first this year? Here are our picks for the most likely to finish first on the upcoming race of 12th March.
The reigning champion will once again be a popular pick amongst punters, but only one horse has previously won the Ryanair Chase on two occasions. That honour belongs to Albertas Run, who is also the only horse to have won the race in consecutive seasons.
Frodon’s form at Cheltenham highlights that it will be a leading contender, as he has won there on five occasions over the past three years. That run also includes three wins in a row at Cheltenham.
His performance in last year’s race was stunning, as he went on to win by one and a quarter lengths from Aso. However, it will not begin the race as the favourite, which means there will be value to be had in him.
Min’s resurgence this season has been one of the stories of the campaign. The Willie Mullins trained horse started his career with a big reputation, but he hasn’t been able to live up to the hype so far. The nine-year-old hasn’t won at the festival during his career, with the closest he came to success coming in 2018, as he finished second behind Altior in the Queen Mother Chase.
However, the step up in the distance has been an inspired move, and he has started this season looking like he could be the one to beat in the Ryanair. He is the current favourite with the sportsbooks, as he won last time out on his first run of the season. That was a dominant victory at Punchestown in early December as he beat Hardline by two and a quarter lengths. His odds could shorten when it reappears before the festival, which means punters will have to pick the right opportunity to support Min.
Riders Onthe Storm
This seven-year-old has been the horse that all punters have been keeping an eye on this season. He has flourished since running in longer distance races, and has won on both his starts since joining the Nigel Twiston-Davies camp. The potential was clear to see from an early stage as he won once last season, but ended the campaign by falling and pulling up in the last two runs.
Davies has been able to work with Riders Onthe Storm on his racing, and has turned him into a juggernaut. His last two victories have come against Cepage and On The Blind Side. The latter of those victories was by seven lengths at Ascot. Punters will learn a lot more about this horse when it reappears before the festival at Ascot, where it will take on Cyrname. A success in that race could mean that his odds shorten, which means punters will have to find the best possible time to find value in their bet on him.
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