Ceebee continues his Cheltenham Festival 2016 previews and this time he looks at the Ryanair Chase and is backing Sound Investment at 20/1 with Paddy Power.
Ryanair Chase - 2m5f
The first two home in last year’s thrilling renewal were rated 161 and 159 respectively. The winner Uxizandre had only one previous G1 win to his name and five failed attempts in graded company. A handicap win off 150 was the best Ma Filleule had previously managed.
In 2014 the best horse Dynaste won. He was chased home by 155 and 156 rated horses.
The 2013 renewal was a strong race with Cue Card leading the way. The third home, For Non Stop, was rated 160 and his season best was a handicap chase (Old Roan) win off 151.
Ok I’m probably boring you now. Long story short – you don’t need to be a multiple G1 winning chaser to get involved in the Ryanair Chase. There’s nothing wrong with coming the handicap route and a mark of 160 odd is plenty good enough.
Step forward Sound Investment. After running in three handicap chases this season he is currently rated 161. He opened his season with a win off a mark of 155 in the Old Roan at Aintree. He followed that up with an even better performance under top weight in the Paddy Power Gold Cup where he beat all bar Buywise and Annacotty (both receiving 9lbs+). His third handicap chase outing was at the December meeting where he finished 5th of 15. Whilst not fighting out the finish, it wasn’t a terrible effort and the form has worked out well with Village Vic (1st) beating Tenor Nivernais (3rd) since. In any case he’s probably better than that as the Paddy Power was a tough race and it may have left its mark whilst it’s also worth remembering Paul Nicholls had a fairly miserable December.
With one very good and one solid effort over Cheltenham’s 2m5f track, the Ryanair shouldn’t hold any surprises. He has won on good ground and heavy ground, right and left handed tracks. His last three successes have all come at around 2m4f.
There’s no reason he shouldn’t run his race and as I’ve pointed out - running to a mark he’s capable of is plenty good enough in an average Ryanair. And it’s hard to believe this year will be above average….
Vautour heads the market but he’s at a guess only 70:30 likely to run. If he were mine he’d be lining up in the Gold Cup unless there was genuine soft ground. If he runs here he’ll obviously take a world of beating but betting each way at 20/1 against him; I’m ok if he turns up and rubbing my hands together if he defects to the Gold Cup.
Smad Place won the 3m2f Hennessy on soft ground. Aside from the fact Sound Investment won a handicap off the same mark this season, it hardly screams 2m5f Ryanair. He’s quite short (7/1) for one who has fallen short of top class many times. He wouldn’t beat Vautour around here so if Vautour does turn up you’re not getting much each way value at that price.
Al Ferof was third in the King George again but in such a small field it didn’t amount to much as he was hammered by the first two and really only plugged on to beat Smad Place home. Now 11yrs old his chance (5th in 2014) is probably gone.
Don Cossack will not line up here.
Vroum Vroum Mag is apparently being kept over hurdles. I’ve no idea why. She was initially entered in the Boyne Hurdle on Saturday. Must be considered a very unlikely runner here.
Road to Riches is interesting. He’s interesting as he has decent winning form over this trip but has on occasion looked all about stamina. Third in last year’s Gold Cup (2L to make up on Djakadam) when the late Friday rain was possibly the difference between winning and not. I think connections will go for it again. The Gold Cup is the pinnacle and they know it. O’Leary has said he’s not afraid to be mob-handed in the top races.
Vibrato Valtat hast looked well short of this standard all season and is unlikely to improve for this sort of trip. Dynaste is another who’s been well below par this season. Simonsig is currently out injured so must be very unlikely to make the lineup. He doesn’t want this trip even if he does make it here in one piece.
Holywell doesn’t want this drop in trip. Felix Yonger doesn’t want this step up in trip. He’s a 2miler. Ptit Zig goes hurdling apparently. Champagne West surely goes handicapping off his attractive mark. Stablemate Village Vic may run here but I think the Plate is more likely and a more realistic test. Captain Conan hasn’t seen a racetrack for 2yrs. Josses Hill doesn’t jump at all well enough. A brave man’s ride. Rubi Light and Roi du Mee are well past it. God’s Own will run in the champion chase. Traffic Fluid might do the same.
I’m struggling to find runners… Were he mine Gilgamboa would be aimed here but since he ran in a 3m handicap last time you wouldn’t be too sure that’ll happen. Valseur Lido has been mentioned as a Grand National sort but he may yet run here. He was however easily put in his place in his two tries outside Novice Company. Irish Cavalier wasn’t even entered. Strange move. Sir Des Champs might run as Gigginstown will have 3 in the Gold Cup already. He’d need to put a poor Lexus effort behind him. Ballynagour would appreciate this trip but has been rancid the last twice.
Annacotty has 10lbs to find with Sound Investment. Triolo D’Alene isn’t as easily scratched as others but the National is probably his aim. Ballycasey, Fine Rightly, Bishops Road, Mozoltov, Royal Regatta, Cold March and plenty more have at least a stone to find to be winning the Ryanair Chase no matter how weak a field may line up.
In what could be a weak small field grade 1; Sound Investment is as good as anything in this bar Vautour. And if needs be he’s more than capable of chasing him home for place money.
1 point each way Sound Investment at 20/1 with PaddyPower