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Cheltenham Festival Race Previews: Ryanair Chase

A flurry of talented chasers clash in the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase

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2CN17RT Horse Racing - Grand National Festival - Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool, Britain - April 5, 2019 Ruby Walsh wins the 3.25 JLT Chase on Min Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

A wide-open affair lies in wait for punters, with several top-class runners descending on Prestbury Park to fight for glory in the Ryanair Chase.

Allaho currently sits top of the market, after bouncing back to winning ways in the Grade 2 Horse and Jockey Hotel Chase at Thurles in January.

The seven-year-old carries some useful Cheltenham form, placing in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in 2019 before finishing third in the RSA Chase last season.

Willie Mullins’ rising talent jumps well and has age on his side, so he could be competing at the Festival for at least a few more years.

Last season’s winner and stablemate Min was a long-time favourite for the contest, before surprisingly being pulled up in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown last month.

Willie Mullins
Willie Mullins seemingly holds all the aces in the Ryanair, with three of his stable-stars heading the market

The 10-year-old had landed Grade 1 honours earlier in the season in the John Durkan Punchestown Chase in December, battling through the thick fog to see off Tornado Flyer by a length.

If Min came bounce back to his earlier season form, he has every chance of landing back-to-back successes here.

Willie Mullins also holds entries for Irish Gold Cup winner Kemboy, who is also entered for the Gold Cup and Stayers’ Hurdle, and serial Festival placer Melon.

Imperial Aura has gained plaudits for two strong performances this season, and could be a contender of interest for Kim Bailey.

The eight-year-old landed the Listed Colin Parker Intermediate Chase at Carlisle in November, before impressively landing the Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase three weeks later.

Imperial Aura, who won at the Festival last year, leads the British hopes in this year’s Ryanair for local trainer Kim Bailey

He is arguably one of the slickest jumpers in the race, even though he unseated rider David Bass on his last outing in the Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton in early January.

Fakir D’oudairies pushed himself back into the Festival picture after finishing a promising second behind Chacun Pour Soi at the Dublin Racing Festival.

The six-year-old has intriguing form on both good and soft ground, and could well be an undetected threat for Joseph O’Brien.

Peterborough Chase winner Mister Fisher has developed into a promising chaser for Nicky Henderson and could produce a big effort here, while Harry Whittington will be hoping that Saint Calvados can go one better after losing by a neck in this contest last season.

Peterborough Chase winner Mister Fisher looks set to feature in a third Cheltenham Festival for trainer Nicky Henderson

Last season’s Marsh Novices’ Chase winner Samcro holds an entry for Denise Foster, while Real Steel will be looking to land his first victory under new trainer Paul Nicholls.

The Ryanair Chase is lining up to be arguably one of the best races on paper at this year’s Festival.

BEST SELECTIONS:
min ended his cheltenham festival hoodoo with victory in the 2020 ryanair chase

Read our preview for fellow Grade One contest on the Thursday, the Marsh Novices’ Chase.

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