14:50 Cheltenham Thu 15 March 2018

  • Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) (Registered As The Festival Trophy) (Class 1)
  • 2m 4f 166y, Soft (Heavy in places)
  • 6 Runners
  • Winner£199,325.002nd£74,795.003rd£37,450.004th£18,655.005th£9,380.006th£4,690.00
  • Surface: Turf
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Weighed In

Winning time:5m 23.3sOff time:14:50:43
1
711-10OR: 166D
8/1
Produced a career best to land the Galway Plate in convincing fashion and excelled himself in Grade 1 company at Leopardstown when last seen. Better ground appeared to suit there (handles soft/heavy) but not ruled out of this on recent form.
Watch last raceLast run
2
811-10OR: 157BFD
10/1
Strong travelling chaser who is versatile with regards to distance but looks best short of 3m. Yet to win this season (set some tough tasks) and is now returned to a more suitable distance although does need to find more off the bridle.
Watch last raceLast run
3
1211-10OR: 166CD
9/2
Now reaching the veteran stage but he's still capable of top class form as he showed when second to an up-and-coming chaser last time. Had his ups-and-downs since his last win but hard to write off in what could be his swansong. Won this in 2013.
Watch last raceLast run
5
611-10OR: 162CD
9/1
Already a smart chaser when he produced a career best to land a big handicap here on his penultimate start. That run has forced him into a better grade and he showed he was up to the task, running with credit last time; will be at home in the mud.
Watch last raceLast run
6
911-10OR: 160
18/1
Sound jumper who was second in this last year (to Un De Sceaux) and returned to form when last seen in December on heavy ground. Has run well when fresh before so absence is no problem and this remains his best trip; usually prominently ridden.
Watch last raceLast run
7
1011-10OR: 168CD
8/11
Always appears at home at the Festival and put up one of the best performances seen in this race last year. Has proved his well being in his last two races both over 2m on deep ground and comes here once again as a worthy market leader.
Watch last raceLast run

Non-Runners

4
Douvan1
811-10OR: 170
T: W P MullinsJ: Unknown Jockey

Last Year's Winner

DRAWHORSEAWGTSP
Un De Sceaux911-107/4
T: W P MullinsJ: R Walsh

Betting

Forecast

Un De Sceaux (8/11), Douvan (4/1), Cue Card (9/2), Balko Des Flos (8/1), Frodon (9/1), Cloudy Dream (10/1), Sub Lieutenant (18/1)

Verdict

An intriguing contest where despite the dominance of UN DE SCEAUX, you could make a case for all of the other likely five runners. Last year’s winner does look the most likely victor again having looked in good form of late over shorter trips and if the ground does stay testing it should suit. A win for Cue Card would bring the house down and provide what would be a likely fitting end to his career but he may just come up short. Balko Des Flos acts on this ground but may just prefer a firmer surface while it remains to be seen if Frodon and Cloudy Dream can handle a test such as this.
  1. Un De Sceaux
  2. Balko Des Flos
  3. Cue Card

Tips

WHAT THE TRAINERS SAY

Un De Sceaux - Part-owner Colm O'Connell: "For the first time it looks like he's even going to get his ground at Cheltenham, which he's never had before. He arrived at the course a couple of days ago and I've seen the pictures, he looks a million dollars, he knows where he is. This is his fourth Festival and that's an achievement in itself. He won the Arkle, then had no answer to Sprinter Sacre but won the Ryanair last year. There's a bit of rain forecast Wednesday night and that will be welcome after a couple of dry days forecast."

Colin Tizzard - Cue Card: "I don't know why Cue Card has had problems with the third-last in the Gold Cup - the third-last is still there in the Ryanair. Do horses remember? Jockeys riding them might. I am sure I will remember. Cue Card has been a good jumper all his life - the first time he tanked into it when it looked like if he had popped over he would have been away. The second time he clipped the top and over he came. Coincidence. I have been through the falls in my mind and I don't think there is anything to say why that happened or why it should happen again at the fence. I always watch our horses and wouldn't look away.

Ruth Jefferson - Cloudy Dream: "We felt he was unlucky in the Old Roan and then we took on Fox Norton over two miles before he ran over three miles twice. Behind Native River at Newbury, we felt if he couldn't see out the trip there, he wasn't going to get it (at Cheltenham) so the Ryanair looks his ideal trip.

"It was a very good run behind Altior in the Arkle, even though some thought Charbel might have been in front of him, you don't know. He's very consistent and at a high level, I don't think he's done a lot wrong and most people would love to train him"

Henry de Bromhead - Sub Lieutenant & Balko Des Flos: "Heavy ground is definitely a worry as he (Balko Des Flos) is very dependent on good ground. He is a work in progress. He is still a young horse and hopefully he has got years ahead of him. We needed to see that performance last time (second to Road To Respect). He won the Plate then he was disappointing twice on heavy ground over two and a half. You had to go into the race at Christmas hoping that good ground and three miles would work and luckily it turned out that way. I think he could be a Gold Cup horse in time, but he is rated 166 and he is only young.

"I'd love to have had another go at Un De Sceuax with Sub Lieutenant on nicer ground. I thought he completely lost his position last year and he ran on like anything at the end last year. He is not as effective on soft ground, but he will handle it."

Paul Nicholls - Frodon: "He is a proper tough, genuine horse. He comes out of his races so well and is always mad fresh."

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