Crack team of graduating novices to make 2014 Ryanair Chase a special one
The Ryanair Chase may not yet have the lustre of the traditional Championship races, but it’s been easily their equal in terms of excitement in recent years, a status that has much to do with its role as halfway-house between the Champion Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Canvass a group of racing aficionados for Cheltenham 2014 tips and it’s unlikely too many will have a nailed on bet for the Ryanair, with the race still considered a plan-B for horses too slow for 2m contests or lacking the stamina for 3m or more.
Nonetheless any race that sees Riverside Theatre taking on Somersby, Albertas Run, Medermit, Captain Chris and Little Josh – as Festival Thursday’s Grade 1 chase did in 2011 – is sure to make compelling viewing.
Last year saw Cue Card take on First Lieutenant, pounding Mouse Morris’ Irish raider to smithereens after the pair had been virtually inseparable in the betting.
However, with connections of the latter in particular sure to be considering stepping up for the Gold Cup, the Ryanair could be at the mercy of a bunch of promising second season chasers.
The Jewson Novices Chase is the rookie fencers’ equivalent of the Ryanair and the 2013 first and second Benefficient and Dynaste could well be aimed at what is often perceived a more winnable race than the Gold Cup in their first senior chasing season.
To do so is no disgrace nor disavowal of talent, with Imperial Commander beating Voy Por Ustedes in the contest the year before his Gold Cup win.
With last year’s wide-margin winner a quirky character and prone to the occasional round of sloppy jumping there should be plenty of encouragement for the pair – along with Nicky Henderson’s Simonsig should he choose to swerve his stablemate Sprinter Sacre – to pitch their hats into the Ryanair ring.