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2021 Ryanair Chase Tips – Two to back in wide open Grade One

  • We’ve published our guide to the 2021 Ryanair Chase
  • The Ryanair is the second Grade One on day three of the Cheltenham Festival
  • Allaho heads the betting, ahead of defending champion Min
  • Melon and Saint Calvados are our each-way tips at 10/1 and 11/1
Ryanair Chase
Saint Calvados (right) finishing second to Min in the 2020 Ryanair Chase. (Getty)

Before we get to the Stayers’ Hurdle on day three of the Cheltenham Festival, viewers have a fascinating renewal of the Ryanair Chase to take in. This Grade One has become the unofficial fifth Championship race at the meeting in recent years, having been won by greats Albertas Run, Vautour, Cue Card and Un De Sceaux.

This year’s Ryanair Chase looks wide-open, and stacked with quality. Let’s take a look through the current betting.

2021 Ryanair Chase Guide

2021 Ryanair Chase Odds

Best Odds
Imperial Aura6/1
Saint Calvados10/1
Chacun Pour Soi12/1
Fakir D'Oudairies12/1
Mister Fisher14/1
Dashel Drasher16/1

*Odds taken from William Hill on 21/3/218

2021 Ryanair Chase Tips – Vulnerable Market Leaders

MinRyanair Chase Defending ChampionGET 6/1 HERE
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Having finished behind Altior three times at the Cheltenham Festival, Min finally claimed a deserved victory on this grandest of meetings when holding off Saint Calvados and A Plus Tard to win last year’s Ryanair Chase. 

The handicapper has actually dropped Min’s rating by three pounds over the last two seasons, despite Willie Mullins’ star winning three Grade Ones in that time. Patrick Mullins claimed Min jumped brilliantly in the John Durkan on his reappearance, but he was still only good enough to beat Tornado Flyer by a length, and he was pulled up for the first time in his career when last seen in the Dublin Chase.

Allaho actually tops the Ryanair Chase betting ahead of Min, having won a Grade Two at Thurles on his last start. Mullins’ seven-year-old is still improving, and this seems to be his best trip. Yet, all his wins have been going right-handed, and Allaho has struggled to get up the hill on his previous visits to Cheltenham.

Both of those races were over three miles, but I just don’t think this is Allaho’s kind of track. The Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse would be right up his street.

Earlier in the season, Imperial Aura topped the Ryanair betting. Kim Bailey’s star won his first two starts of the season in impressive fashion, and scored at the Festival in the Close Brothers’ Novices’ Chase 12 months ago. However, it's easy to question the strength of his form this season, and Imperial Aura returns to Cheltenham on the back of a failure to finish in the Silviniaco Conti Chase.

imperial aura
Imperial Aura is the leading British hope in this year's Ryanair. (Getty)

2021 Ryanair Chase Tips – Each-Way Chances

Saint Calvados2020 Ryanair Chase Runner-UpGET 10/1 HERE
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Since finishing second here 12 months ago, Saint Calvados has run twice over three miles. Harry Whittington’s charge ran a cracker to place fourth in the King George on his return, and fell when just starting to get into the Cotswold Chase at Sandown. The Gold Cup is being considered, but a return to the Ryanair looks more likely.

Melon didn’t run well when last seen in the Irish Gold Cup. Yet, Willie Mullins' chaser always seems to run well here at the Cheltenham Festival and he’s amongst the most accomplished jumpers in this field. If he’s allowed to bowl along at the front, Melon could be hard to peg back.

Fakir D’Oudairies looked out-of-sorts during the first half of the season, as Joseph O’Brien experimented with different trips. Last year’s Arkle runner-up returned to form with a runner-up effort in the Dublin Chase last time out, and he's a Grade One winner over this distance.

Mister Fisher proved he could handle soft ground when beating a classy field in the Peterborough Chase, staged at Cheltenham in the autumn. Nicky Henderson’s chaser could get the good spring ground he craves, and his turn-of-foot could put him in the frame.

Gordon Elliott admitted recently that Samcro is very difficult to train. Capable of both the sublime and the sub-standard. Performances this season have been disappointing, but Samcro’s a two-time Cheltenham Festival winner, and he has to be in with a shout if Elliott can turn him around in time for Cheltenham.

2021 Ryanair Chase Tips – Overlooked Outsiders

Chris's Dream2021 Ryanair Chase Outsider To WatchGET 33/1 HERE
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Having failed to get home in the Gold Cup last year, the Ryanair has been the target for Chris’s Dream this term, and he’s too classy to be overlooked. As is Fanion D’Estruval, who’s an improving young chaser with plenty of natural ability, and it wouldn’t be a shock if he turned up and ran well.

Kalashnikov has shaped more like a three-miler to me this season, and could run in the Ultima if Amy Murphy doesn’t fancy a tilt at the Ryanair. Dashel Drasher won the Ascot Chase, and is another who remains open to improvement, but I doubt we'll see him pitch up in the Ryanair, having had two hard races already this year.

Melon (right) is touched off by Samcro (left) in last year's Marsh Novices' Chase. (Getty)

2021 Ryanair Chase Tips – Two To Back

Saint Calvados E/W2021 Ryanair Chase Tip 1GET 10/1 HERE
New customers only. 18+ T&Cs and wagering requirements apply.

I’m keen to back SAINT CALVADOS again, having tipped him up at 20/1 when he placed second 12 months ago. Harry Whittington’s charge ran a blinder that day, and could even have passed Min had he jumped the last a little better.

Saint Calvados jumped out to his left throughout the King George VI Chase and was very fresh on his reappearance. He was still in with a chance jumping the second-last, only to weaken in the closing stages. Gavin Sheehan was then very keen for his mount to settle better in the Cotswold Chase, and the duo were just starting to make inroads from the rear when Saint Calvados buckled on landing the middle railway fence, and Sheehan was flung from the saddle.

I’m sure Saint Calvados does stay three miles, but they surely can’t go for the Gold Cup on the back of a fall at Sandown. A reproduction of his run in last year’s Ryanair Chase could be good enough to win it this time around, and at the age of just eight, who’s to say Saint Calvados won’t run an even better race when he returns to his favourite track.

Melon E/W2021 Ryanair Chase Tip 2GET 11/1 HERE
New customers only. 18+ T&Cs and wagering requirements apply.

My second selection to take the market leaders on with is MELON. Some may find Melon hard to back, due to his poor strike rate and that last-place finish at the Dublin Raving Festival, but that hasn’t stopped Willie Mullins’ charge running crackers at Cheltenham in the past.

In 2018, Melon was a 12-length fifth in the Irish Champion Hurdle, but was only beaten a neck in the Champion Hurdle, a result he matched the following season behind Espoir D'Allen. Melon came agonisingly close to winning the Marsh Novices' Chase, on the back of a 20-length defeat in the Irish Arkle.

Compared to previous efforts, his eight-length defeat in the Irish Gold Cup was a good effort. He should be a big player dropping back down in trip, I just hope the team let him use his jumping to best effect and don’t try to restrain him, like they did at Leopardstown.


Saint Calvados wasn't beaten far behind Min in last year's Ryanair Chase, and he can challenge for top honours again.

Melon usually saves his best for Cheltenham, and he'll be my second each-way bet in what's likely to be a large-field, competitive renewal.

2021 Ryanair Chase Tip 1: Saint Calvados Each-Way @1000.0 at BetMGM - 8 Units
2021 Ryanair Chase Tip 2: Melon Each-Way @1100.0 at PlaySugarhouse Sport - 8 Units

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