Ryanair Chase

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The Grade 1 Ryanair Chase was introduced in 2005 as a championship race at the Cheltenham Festival for horses over two and a half miles.

The Ryanair Chase will run on the 14th of March 2024.

There was previously no top-class race for them between the two-mile Champion Chase and the three-and-a-quarter miles of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

It currently shares the spotlight on the third day of the Festival along with the Grade 1 Stayers Hurdle. Notable previous winners of the Ryanair Chase include Imperial Commander (2009), Cue Card (2013), Un De Sceaux (2017), Frodon (2019) and Allaho (2021).

Find out more about the Ryanair Chase:

Ryanair Chase

The Ryanair Chase – Race Overview

The Ryanair Chase is raced on the New Course at Cheltenham Racecourse.

This race takes place on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival at 14:50.

Horses must be five years old or older to compete in the Grade 1 National Hunt steeplechase. It covers a distance of roughly 2 miles and 4 furlongs, with seventeen fences to jump along the way.

Cheltenham Festival Ryanair Chase Previous Winners

2013Cue Card7Joe TizzardColin Tizzard
2014Dynaste8Tom ScudamoreDavid Pipe
2015Uxizandre7Tony McCoyAlan King
2016Vautour7Ruby WalshWillie Mullins
2017Un de Sceaux9Ruby WalshWillie Mullins
2018Balko des Flos7Davy RussellHenry de Bromhead
2019Frodon7Bryony FrostPaul Nicholls
2020Min9Paul TownendWillie Mullins
2021Allaho7Rachael BlackmoreWillie Mullins
2022Allaho8Paul TownendWillie Mullins
2023Envoi Allen9Rachael BlackmoreHenry De Bromhead

Many Ryanair Chase horses will race in more races throughout the years. Stay updated on the horses and place ante-post bets if you want to wager on them.

If you are looking for more racing tips for events taking place at Cheltenham then check out our Cheltenham horse racing tips page.

Famous Ryanair Chase Winners

The Ryanair Chase was added to the Cheltenham Festival programme when the meeting was extended to four days in 2005.

It is open to five-year-olds and upwards and replaced the Cathcart Challenge Cup which had been restricted to second-season chasers.

It immediately became established as the two and a half-mile championship and was given Grade 1 status in 2008.

2009 winner Imperial Commander was trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and ridden by Paddy Brennan. He went on to win the Betfair Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following season, famously defeating the Paul Nicholls-trained duo, Kauto Star and Denman. Kauto Star did not jump with any fluency and eventually fell and Imperial Commander was able to run down Denman up the famous Cheltenham hill.

Cue Card was a very popular winner of the Ryanair in 2013, trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by son Joe. He ran here in preference to taking on Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the move was rewarded with a comfortable 9 lengths victory.

Cue Card won the Betfair Chase and the King George VI Chase in the 2015/16 season, setting up a £1 million bonus if he could win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He still looked to be going well when falling at the third last.

The 2015 Ryanair Chase is famous for having provided Tony McCoy with his final Cheltenham Festival winner. He made all the running on Uxizandre in the colours of JP McManus. It was McCoy’s 31st Festival winner with the twenty times Champion National Hunt jockey retiring with 4,348 National Hunt winners to his name.

Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh teamed up for back-to-back Ryanair victories with the high class Vautour (2016) and Un De Sceaux (2017).

Mullins won it again with Min (2020) ridden by Paul Townend and Allaho (2021), the mount of Rachael Blackmore.

Allaho’s spectacular display of jumping was rated as the outstanding performance of the meeting by many observers.

Key Ryanair Chase Trials

The Ascot Chase in February is often a key trial for the Ryanair Chase. Nicky Henderson’s Riverside Theatre won the Ascot Chase prior to winning the Ryanair, repeating his victory of 12 months’ earlier after a year off the track. Cue Card also won both races in 2013 at the age of seven. He returned to Ascot to win the same race as an eleven-year-old in 2017.

Vautour was runner-up in the King George VI Chase at Kempton and successfully dropped back in distance to win this race. He was so impressive that many observers wondered if he would have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup that season. Frodon has a terrific Cheltenham record, winning the 2019 Ryanair Chase after taking the Cotswold Chase on his previous visit. Trainer Paul Nicholls resisted the temptation to run him in the Gold Cup that year. The gelding would show his versatility when landing the King George in 2020 under regular rider Bryony Frost.

Aintree is often the next target for Ryanair Chase winners where they have a mixed record.

Our Vic (2008) went on to win the Bowl Chase but Riverside Theatre (2012) and Dynaste (2014) were both beaten in the same race.

Albertas Run won the Melling Chase at Aintree after his Ryanair victory in 2010 and finished runner-up when attempting the same double the following season.

Cue Card (2013), Vautour (2016) and Balko Des Flos (2018) were all beaten in the Melling Chase.

  • The first two in the betting have dominated the Ryanair Chase over the years. Albertas Run (2010) at 14-1 and Uxizandre (2015) at 16-1 are the only outsiders to win the race since it was introduced in 2005.
  • Balko Des Flos (2018) started third favourite at 8-1 but almost all of the remaining winners were either first or second favourite.
  • Seven-year-olds have the best record in the Ryanair Chase, although winners have ranged from six to ten.
  • Taranis (2007) is the only six-year-old to win the race while Fondmort (2006), Our Vic (2008) and Albertas Run (2011) all won this race at the age of ten.
  • An official rating of 162 or higher is usually required to win this race. Vautour (176) was the highest-rated winner in 2016.
  • Albertas Run became the first horse to win the race twice when successful for Jonjo O’Neill in 2010 and 2011. The horse attempted a hat trick in 2012 but was narrowly beaten by Riverside Theatre. He was retired after being pulled up in this race the following season.
  • The Ascot Chase is often a good form indicator.

Ryanair Chase – Top Trainers and Jockeys

The victory of Allaho in 2021 provided Trainer Willie Mullins with a record fourth Ryanair Chase success, all coming within the past six seasons. He eclipsed the three winners for Paul Nicholls; Thisthatandtother (2005), Taranis (2007) and Frodon (2019).

Ruby Walsh remains the leading rider in the history of the Ryanair with four victories, two for Nicholls and two for Mullins. Tony McCoy won the race three times, scoring twice on Albertas Run (2010, 2011) and again on Uxizandre (2015).

Betting on the Ryanair Chase

The Ryanair Chase is one of the biggest ante-post betting races of the Cheltenham Festival with odds available all year round.

It features as one of “the big five” ante-post races alongside the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Stayers Hurdle.

Bookmakers have started offering “non-runner – no bet” on the Ryanair Chase from the end of January in recent years.

Popular Questions

What distance is the Ryanair Chase?

The Ryanair Chase has a distance of two miles and five furlongs.

What time does the Ryanair Chase start?

The Ryanair Chase starts at 14:50.

What are the betting trends for the Festival Trophy

Summary of Ryanair Chase

The Ryanair Chase race at Cheltenham has improved in class in recent years, and while it doesn’t have the same big starts as other Grade One races at the festival, it is still a significant race.

Instead of falling in trip and being outpaced, or going up in trip and being outstayed, this race allows horses to run at their best.

With time, this event has the potential to match the other four major festival races as a true highlight of the festival, just as the others have.


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