The 2021 and 2022 Ryanair Chase winner, Allaho will not get the chance to become the first horse to win the 2m4f contest at the Cheltenham Festival three times, as he has been ruled out of the day three race through injury.
The absence of the defending champion leaves the race open now, as had Willie Mullins’ impressive chaser lined up in the contest, he would have been a warm favourite to prevail again.
The Cheltenham odds for the Ryanair Chase are now headed by Fakir D’oudairies at 11/4. He finished second in the race in 2021 behind Allaho. The Irish horse was also the runner-up in the Arkle Trophy, so he has gone close before at the meeting.
After winning the Grade Two Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase at Thurles last time out, Joseph O’Brien’s runner is likely to be one of the popular Cheltenham tips this year. He was very impressive in that race, scoring by six lengths in a strong field that included Chacun Pour Soi and French Dynamite.
Fakir D'Oudairies is brilliant at Aintree again! pic.twitter.com/RffqYIIomr— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) April 8, 2022
Fakir D’oudairies’ only defeat this season came at Punchestown when he finished second in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase behind Galopin Des Champs. That form was boosted when the Punchestown winner landed the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival. Willie Mullins’ runner is now the ante-post favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Blue Lord Needs to Bounce Back from Leopardstown Defeat
Although Mullins won’t be represented in the Ryanair Chase by Allaho this year, he will saddle Blue Lord. The chaser suffered a surprise defeat at Leopardstown on his latest appearance. He had to settle for the runner-up spot in the Dublin Chase which was won by Gentleman De Mee.
Blue Lord began his season with victory in the Grade Two Clonmel Oil Chase. He then stepped up to the highest level over the festive period to land a Grade One contest by an impressive 11 lengths.
The eight-year-old is set to go back up in distance in the Ryanair Chase. With a record of six wins from eight starts, the Irish horse has been one of the most consistent chasers over the last couple of seasons.
Shishkin Likely to Feature Over This New Trip
This year’s Ryanair Chase could be the race where Shishkin makes his opening attempt at the 2m4f distance. The two-time Cheltenham Festival winner was the dominant horse in the 2m chase division before he suffered defeat in the Champion Chase in 2022.
⭐️ Shishkin – Arkle hero & still unbeaten over fences @CheltenhamRaces— Racing TV (@RacingTV) March 16, 2021
🏇 Nine races
🥇 Eight wins
🏆 G1 Sporting Life Arkle
🌍 A horse with the world at his feet
A majestic effort from the imperious Shishkin for @NdeBoinville & @sevenbarrows #CheltenhamFestival pic.twitter.com/oJEvKts7gs
Nicky Henderson’s runner could only finish third in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown earlier this season. His trainer has given him an entry in the Ryanair Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup at this year’s Festival, but with stamina doubts about the latter, it is the 2m4f race that is likely to be his target.
Henderson has won the Grade One race on day three of the meeting twice. His last success came in 2012 when Riverside Theatre prevailed for the Seven Barrows team.
The 2023 Ryanair Chase takes place on the 16th of March and the final declarations will be announced 48 hours before the Grade One contest.
Feature image not representative of Allaho, used as illustration only.