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The Inside Track on The Ryanair Chase

The Ryanair is impossibly competitive. I keep studying it, walking away, starting again, looking at in a different way, questioning myself. What a race it is. Dynaste, Al Ferof and First Lieutenant set a top-class benchmark.

Dynaste looks sure to go well on better ground and over a trip that seems ideal. But is he really a Cheltenham horse? I’m not so sure.

Al Ferof is definitely a Cheltenham horse and on his Paddy Power win in November 2012 I’d really fancy him. But that was a long time ago and I can’t back him on his form since.

First Lieutenant will be a major contender if indeed he runs. Connections are making noises about taking the Gold Cup route. If he lines up here I would fear him, but he does have an unerring ability to find one or two too good every time.

After what feels like an eternity of deliberation I have zoned in on BENEFFICIENT as the horse to emerge on top. He won a deep-looking JLT Novices Chase last year, with Dynaste well held in second. His latest victory at Leopardstown over an inadequate 2m1f was an even better effort with the likes of Arvika Ligeonniere, Sizing Europe and Baily Green in behind and they are all specialist two milers and genuine contenders for the Champion Chase.

Benefficient looks a decent bet to go close again at the Festival.

There are a few dangers at bigger prices lurking in the field. Menorah is a bit of an enigma but immensely talented on his day. With a clear round he could run a huge race for a team in top form. Champion Court is another that can never be discounted given his consistency and suitability to this track and trip.

However, I am most excited at the price about the chances of Boston Bob. He would surely have won the RSA Chase last year but for falling, but it may be that he is even better over this intermediate trip.

All six of his wins for Willie Mullins have been over 2m 4f, give or take a furlong, and this better ground may well suit him perfectly. He was second in the Albert Bartlett two years ago on good ground and clearly likes Prestbury Park. An Irish one-two will do for me…..unless I start looking at the race again!

Best bet: Benefficient

Alternative: Boston Bob