The Ryanair is looking particularly strong this year with lots of quality looking likely to line up. I’d imagine whatever Willie Mullins runs will go off favourite, that being Min or Footpad. He will also run the lovable Un De Sceaux.
This year looks to have a strong Irish challenge with Mullin’s horses as well as Henry De Bromhead’s Monalee. It also seems likely Irish Gold Cup runner up will run here, Road To Respect.
I would prefer to see Min line up in the Champion Chase on day two. I don’t think the Ryanair distance of two miles and a half will see him to best effect. He won over the distance at Punchestown this season but at Punchestown it is flat finish. I think he could spoil his chances by being too keen, I could be wrong but I think he will struggle up the hill at Cheltenham.
Footpad could line up instead of Min or he has the option of Champion Chase too. He has had two runs this season and both times he has came back with an over-reach. By the sounds of things he is going to run with no hind shoes on to try prevent it from occurring again. He is said to have schooled without hind shoes on and schooled well. He looked like winning at Leopardstown at Christmas before being passed by Simply Ned late one. He probably needed the run.
It was hard not to be impressed with him last season but he hasn’t been the same this season. He should be fine over the distance, he won over the distance in France as a four year old. His preparation hasn’t been ideal and for that reason I can bypass him.
I like Monalee and Road To Respect. Monalee won well last time out at Gowran, I said I liked him for this race when previewing the race at Gowran. He was impressive at Gowran winning by two lengths giving Anibale Fly 7lbs. He made all on that occasion but he is likely to get a lead her off Frodon and Un De Sceaux.
He finished second at the last two festivals both over three miles and I would not be sure he got the distance. Over the shorter distance I think he can be seen to best effect.
Road To Respect looks to be going here instead of the Gold Cup. If he had of jumped better at Leopardstown in the Irish Gold Cup, I think he would have won. This is his first time dropping down in trip since he won at Fairyhouse and at the Cheltenham Festival in 2017.
He was very impressive winning the JNwine back in November. I think he has a chance in this race but I think he should take his chance in the Gold Cup if the ground was good.
Un De Sceaux is a very hard horse not like. He has only had the one run this season. That run was back in December when he finished second to Altior at Sandown. That was the only time the ground has been soft enough for him to run.
He has run in the Ryanair for the last two years. Both times he has been very keen and pulled his way to the front. If the ground came up soft, you would be brave to rule him out.
Frodon was the last horse past the post in last years Ryanair. He will struggle to get to the lead with Un De Sceaux in the race. He has plenty of course form but he likes to have things to himself in front. If he doesn’t get the lead I think he will struggle.
A horse at a big price I would give a chance to is Coney Island. He was running a great race at Leopardstown over Christmas before he faded late on and finished seventh. He had made great progress to be in third after the second last fence and then faded. I think he can run a good race at a big price.
I think Monalee can get his head in front here. The winner of the Ryanair last year finished second in the Savills Chase before going on to win the Ryanair and I think think Monalee can do the same. I also think Coney Island will run a good race at a big price.