Who will reign supreme in the Ryanair Chase?

Ryanair Chase Cheltenham Festival horse jumping over a fence

While it may not hold the prestige of the four main races at the Cheltenham Festival, the Ryanair Chase still remains a prominent fixture that National Hunt racing fans follow with great interest at the four-day Prestbury Park meeting.

The two-mile and five-furlong race has seen some memorable performances since its inception in 2005 – with the likes of back-to-back champions Albertas Run and Allaho just a couple of the multiple quality horses to take home the spoils in the Grade 1 affair.

This year’s renewal was shaping up to be a historic one, with the aforementioned Allaho opening as the favourite in the horse racing betting odds to win it for a record third time. However, a hattrick of victories will no longer be on the cards, with the Willie Mullins-trained horse recently being ruled out of the Ryanair Chase due to an abdominal bleed.

Therefore, with the short-priced favourite out of action, the race is wide open. With that in mind, read on as we dissect the favourites at the time of writing to finish first past the post in the Ryanair Chase.

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Fakir Doudairies

Replacing Allaho as the pre-race favourite is eight-year-old Fakir Doudairies, whose most recent outing at Thurles in January was a dominant one. The gelding would go on to win that contest by a comfortable six lengths from French Dynamite and Chacun Pour Soi – and when analysing his performance, it was his stamina down the stretch which stood out. 

While there’s no doubting that it was a strong run – it’s further evidence of the Joseph O’Brien-trained horse’s inconsistency. With two losses at Punchestown preceding his triumph at Thurles, of which came off the back of consecutive victories at Aintree and Ascot – one’s not always sure what Fakir Doudairies they’ll get come race day.

However, one thing is for certain, on his day he is incredibly hard to beat – and for those punters who believe he will perform in the Ryanair Chase next month – he currently sits at odds of 3/1 with most operators.

Blue Lord

While Blue Lord is entered in both the Queen Mother Champion Chase and Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, most industry experts believe the Willie Mullins-trained horse will line up in the latter given the news of Allaho’s withdrawal. Couple that with Blue Lord’s performance in the Grade 1 Dublin Chase earlier this month, in which he finished third, all roads point to the gelding saddling up for what is perceived to be the easier path to victory.

Blue Lord is the second favourite with some operators at 7/2, and the joint-favourite alongside Fakir Doudairies with certain bookies at 3/1.

Shishkin

After experiencing an incredible two years from January of 2020 to February 2022, in which the gelding won ten straight, Shishkin has had a dip in form over the past 12 months.

After pulling up in the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last year, the then eight-year-old put forth another disappointing display at Sandown in December in which he came a distant third from winner Edwardstone and the second-placed Greaneteen. 

The Nicky Henderson-trained thoroughbred’s stock has taken a hit as a result. If Shishkin had lined up for the Ryanair Chase this time last year, he would’ve been the red-hot favourite – however – after his recent poor performances and relative inactivity in 2022 and early 2023, he enters as the third favourite at 4/1.


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