Ma Filleule will be hard to beat in receipt of the sex allowance
Ryanair Chase, 2m5f, New Course (due off 2.40pm)
Ireland are still looking for their first Ryanair but they have a favourite’s chance of putting that right this year with Don Cossack. Gordon Elliott’s charge fell in last year’s RSA (when still in contention) before before chasing home Holywell in a hot Grade 1 at Aintree on his next start. This term, he’s stepped up another level, going unbeaten in four starts, including one at Grade 1 level at the expense of Boston Bob and last year’s Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere.
Some have pointed out that all four of his successes have come on right-handed tracks but he won three times going the other round earlier in his career, so there are no fears he won’t act on the course. Better ground at Cheltenham won’t inconvenience him either. Top price: 4/1 bet365.
Who else is fancied?
The Grade 1 Ascot Chase won by Balder Success looks a key piece of form as the runner-up, Ma Filleule, has been well backed to reverse the form, and she may even challenge Don Cossack for favouritism on the day.
Nicky Henderson’s mare was a revelation in the second part of last season, winning at Kempton over Christmas, running a close second to Holywell at Cheltenham and romping away with the Topham Chase at Aintree. She ran well below her best when reappearing at Down Royal in November and appeared to get outstayed when third to Sam Winner over 3m at Aintree on her next start. However, her Ascot run confirmed she’s approaching peak form and the drying ground is very much in her favour.
Balder Success has to be respected but he is yet to complete in four festival starts and has always been considered better on flat tracks like Ascot and Aintree.
Any decent outsiders?
Foxrock has made giant strides this term and is coming off a career-best effort when second behind Carlingford Lough in the Lexus Chase. The drop back in trip should be no real hindrance and he rates a danger. Johns Spirit has run his best races at Cheltenham, albeit on the Old Course (form figures 71112, as opposed to 654 on the New). Hidden Cyclone appeared not to stay when fifth in last year’s race, so it’s a puzzle as to why he didn’t run in the Champion Chase instead. Taquin Du Seuil (generally disappointing this season) and Eduard (trainer has a poor record with his chasers here) are easily opposed.
Trainer quote: “Ma Filleule came to herself in the spring of last year and she is back there – it was a good run at Ascot the other day. We have reason to believe she can find a length or two on that.” – Nicky Henderson
Best bookie offer
Back the winner of this race at 4/1 or bigger with bet365 and they will give you a free bet to the same stake (up to £50) on the next live Channel 4 race – the 3.20 Cheltenham (World Hurdle).
It’s impossible to ignore the strong claims of Don Cossack but the 7lb (mares’ allowance) be concedes to MA FILLEULE could well be the deciding factor.
Selections – Ma Filleule @ 11/2 BetVictor (9/2 bet365)