Trainer Colin Tizzard has said that his stable star, Cue Card, will run in the Ryanair Chase next week rather than the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The former Champion Bumper winner has been in fine form this season and it appears that he will now try to justify favouritism over 2m4f in the Ryanair. There had been plenty of calls for the horse to take on Sprinter Sacre over two miles after his impressive win at Ascot recently but the Ryanair now looks like the preferred target.
Earlier in the season the horse had flirted with three miles in the King George Chase but he clearly didn't stay the trip that day to reduce his Cheltenham options. Most believe that any horse taking on Sprinter Sacre in the Champion Chase is playing for second place with the Ryanair Chase potentially a more winnable contest from a sporting point of view. In truth though the Ryanair Chase is potentially one of the most competitive races of the entire Festival next week with any number of horses in with a genuine chance of claiming the win over 2m4f.
The Tizzard horse loves to bowl along in front and that will surely be the plan in the Ryanair Chase on day three of the Festival. However, a big field will make that a tougher task for Cue Card with some suggesting that he tends to be better in smaller fields where he is able to dictate the run of the race. One of his main opponents in the Ryanair Chase betting is likely to be Riverside Theatre who famously one the race last season. The Nicky Henderson horse won an epic Ryanair last season when he got up on the line and although he ran badly in the King George, he has to be a major threat at this time of the year.
Other potential opponents to Cue Card include Albertas Run, who has won the race twice in the past, and Menorah who is a former winner of the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham. The current betting is littered with former Festival winners at this stage with Sizing Europe and Finians Rainbow also holding entries at this stage, although both do have the Champion Chase as an alternative to the Ryanair next week. The outcome of the race could well be decided by whether or not Cue Card can get an uncontested lead and if he can, he could well be the horse to beat in what could be a potentially classic Ryanair Chase.