Day 3 Cheltenham Preview - Thursday

2.40 Ryanair Chase

6 of the 7 winners (and 6 runners-up) had previously won at Cheltenham
4 of the 8 winners ran in the Paddy Power Gold Cup
Since it became a Grade 1 4 of the 5 winners ran in the King George VI Chase
2 of the 7 winners were runners-up the year before (1 won)
7 of the 8 winners started 6/1 or shorter


Main Connections Comments

Albertas Run

“He needs a bit of warm weather and he didn't do a lot at Kempton (gallop), but that's him really. Hopefully the day out has brought him along but we are running out of time a little bit with him. He wouldn't go to Cheltenham if he's not right, but the plan is definitely to go if he is. And at this stage Aintree for the Grand National is still the plan after Cheltenham. I could just see it bringing him to life.” - Jonjo O'Neill

Cue Card

“He had a hard race at Kempton like they all did. It rode a decent race, a real test of stamina and he came out of it fine. He'll have another run and then go to Cheltenham. I don't think he'll go back up to three miles. Last year I thought two miles was his trip on softer ground all through Christmas time, but then after that I thought we should probably go further. If the ground ends up goodish at Cheltenham he'll most likely run in the Ryanair but if it came up softer, he could possibly drop back for the Queen Mother. 

I haven't changed my opinion of him just because he didn't get the trip in the King George. At Exeter (in the Haldon Gold Cup), he was awesome that day. I like to ride him positively, sending him on and using his jumping and his stride. It's a pity to waste that speed over a longer trip, hence we're dropping him back.. - Colin Tizzard

First Lieutenant

"He'll stay forever, it's just if he has enough toe for the Ryanair and I don't think he would. He runs above himself at Cheltenham and he's done nothing wrong this year. He's just not got his head in front. He ran well at Down Royal, he ran well in the handicap at Newbury (Hennessy) and ran a blinder at Leopardstown." - Mouse Morris


“For Menorah, at least the Ryanair is more open than the Champion Chase but it is obviously more competitive. Two and a half is probably the right trip for him because we thought he just about got the three miles at Newbury last time. If everything goes right on the day he’d definitely have a strong each-way chance.” - Philip Hobbs

Riverside Theatre

"He'll be defending his crown but seems to have been rather forgotten about. After Kempton we sent him away and I was expecting them to come up with a respiratory [problem]. But they found something completely different. Usually, you can tell if a horse has ulcers. But he has never looked like one. Luckily, they're treatable, and he's in great form. And now we know why he has always gone so well fresh. Ulcers are caused by stress, pressures, training." - Nicky Henderson

 Verdict: Menorah


3.20 World Hurdle

The last 25 winners finished in the first four last time out
17 of the last 19 winners ran at the previous years' festival
The last 12 winners started 8/1 or shorter
Only 6 horses outside the first four in the betting have been placed since 2002
No five year old has ever won
No horse to have run in a Champion Hurdle has won since 1992
No Irish winner for 18 years
Main Connections Comments


Oscar Whisky

"I don’t think we saw the best of him, but I think he got the trip so the World Hurdle is a big option for him. He might have more pace on better ground, but he’s won on very soft ground - the ground isn’t really an issue. I think Reve De Sivola is the one to beat in March, but he might be ground dependant." - Barry Geraghty

Reve De Sivola

"He stays so well and the World Hurdle will be next. He runs his race every time and he’s just so tough and genuine. The second horse (Oscar Whisky) certainly stayed and they will be confident of beating him in the World Hurdle." - Nick Williams

Smad Place

“He’s very much on course for Cheltenham. I toyed with the idea of running him [in National Spirit Chase at Fontwell] but, with there being only two and a half weeks to the Festival, we decided not to as he is a horse who can take a little bit of time after his races. We would definitely like to see some better ground at Cheltenham, but he is on target.” - Alan King

 Verdict: Smad Place