The Ryanair Chase takes place on Day 3 of the Festival over the Intermediate trip of 2m 4 and a half furlongs and some may say it is for horses who are not good enough to contend for the Gold Cup.
The honours list will say different as previous winners of this race are Cue Card, Vautour and Un De Sceaux.
Gigginstown finally got their win last year when Balko Des Flos was victorious and I see them holding an ace in the pack this year.
I will look at some of the key trends and stats that are available and then look at two selections that fit perfectly into this race.
- 11/12 had two previous runs at Cheltenham
- 10/12 had one previous win at Cheltenham
- 9/12 Aged between 7-9
- 9/12 One win at least that season
- 8/12 Three runs that season
- 8/12 Ran within the last 61 days.
Road To Respect
This horse is one of my main selections for the festival should owners Gigginstown look to follow up Balko Des Flos’ win in the race last year.
All the trends above are in this horse’s favour.
His course form is very classy thus we can see that he also has an entry in the Gold Cup, a race that he finished a solid fourth in last year. His stamina for the Ryanair could be a massive advantage. He runs three mile very well but any further seems to leave him a bit one paced.
In the Gold Cup last year Native River and Might Bite took each other on up front and that’s the way the race stayed. Road To Respect and Anibale Fly did well to stay on and get close at the finish.
His first run this season was a very easy win in Down Royal and he was again mentioned after the race as a Gold Cup contender. Then he went to Leopardstown at Christmas where he suffered trouble and stumbles all the way round. Kemboy was given a cracker of a ride that day but yet Road To Respect stayed on to his credit.
— RTÉ Racing (@RTEracing) December 28, 2018
The formbook was then turned on its head at the Dublin Racing Festival when Bellshill under a power packed Ruby Walsh drive got up to touch him off in the closing stages. Bellshill had finished behind him at Christmas.
People will say if he stays three mile well, why drop him back in trip? The big thing for me is that the Gold Cup can be run at a crazy pace and I honestly believe Road To Respect could get an easier time in a Ryanair and then storm up the hill as he did under Brian Cooper in 2017.
The other Gigginstown entries for this race are Balko Des Flos, Shattered Love and Tout Est Permis. With the way the season has gone for the first two mentioned and Tout Est Permis maybe not being rated high enough I can only see one option.
Trying to predict where owners go this time of the year is tough but Michael O Leary may just want to win his own race for the second year running.
Road To Respect at 7/1
****PLEASE NOTE THAT FOX NORTON WILL NOT NOW BE RUNNING AT THE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL OWING TO INJURY**
****WE HAVE BEEN NON RUNNER-CASH BACK ON THE RYANAIR CHASE SINCE EARLY FEBRUARY AND BEFORE THIS PIECE WAS POSTED SO COME AND GET YOUR MONEY BACK IF YOU BACKED FOX NORTON FOR THIS RACE****
This horse is another who meets a number of the trends mentioned above.
His return from injury this season has shown us that the ability still remains when finishing a gallant second to Altior in the Clarence House Chase and then third to Cyrname, the highest rated chaser in Britain at the moment.
Even though he was well beaten on both occasions, the grit and tenacity was still there to see as he battled on well both times.
If we go back to 2017 the form-book is full of classy performances.
A second to the ill fated Special Tiara in the Queen Mother Champion Chase before going to the Punchestown Festival and getting the better of the exuberant Un De Sceaux.
ROBBIE POWER is at it again, Fox Norton wins the BoyleSports Champion Chase at Punchestown for trainer Colin Tizzard pic.twitter.com/9AwlrWM7OO
— Dave (@ReverseRacing) April 25, 2017
Cheltenham course form for this race is key and we see noticeable snippets through the form lines of this horse. We see a third to Douvan in the Arkle in 2016 and the fact that he twice won a Shloer Chase around Cheltenham shows that he knows where the winning line is when he arrives in the Cotswolds.
Form is temporary but class is permanent. This horse could be massive value and with no Altior or Cyrname to contend with he could be bang in contention up the hill on day four.
Fox Norton at 10/1