Ryanair Chase Tip:
The 2023 Ryanair Chase has seen a complete market shake up after Shishkin’s Ascot Chase victory.
Shishkin has replaced Allaho as a red-hot, odds-on favourite for this 2m5f Grade 1 after his stunning return to form in the Betfair Ascot Chase last month and if the two-time Cheltenham Festival winner can back up that performance, then he’s going to be mighty difficult to stop.
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In all, five of the last 10 editions of this race were won by the favourite and only one winner in that period was sent off bigger than 8/1.
This hasn’t been a race for long-shot punters in recent years and that trend looks likely to continue in 2023.
Let’s take a closer look at the key contenders.
Shishkin The Standout As Long As He Can Back Up The Ascot Run
Ultimately, this race boils down to one factor: can Shishkin back up his Ascot run, because if he can, he wins the 2023 Ryanair Chase.
Shishkin had won 11 of his 12 races under rules going into last year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase, where he was sent off an odds-on chance to win at his third successive Cheltenham Festival.
The wheels came off Shishkin that day, on ground he clearly didn’t like, and he wasn’t seen again until the 2022 Tingle Creek Chase, in which he looked like a horse that just didn’t have the speed to race over two miles four-and-a-half furlongs.
Given a wind op afterwards, connections decided that Shishkin needed to go up in trip, something that had long been on their minds, and he was also fitted with a first-time tongue-tie for his Ascot assignment.
Et voila, the old Shishkin was back because he travelled and jumped through that Ascot contest like a rejuvenated animal and some talented rivals simply couldn’t live with this horse off the home turn, when the turbos really kicked in.
That 16-length romp earned Shishkin a Racing Post Rating of 178, just 1lb shy of the career-best rating he earned in the famous 2022 Clarence House Chase showdown with Energumene.
So, Shishkin is back to his best and if Nicky Henderson can keep him there, another Grade 1 success beckons in March.
We know Shishkin loves Cheltenham, ground conditions won’t be any issue and he is by some distance the highest-rated runner in the Ryanair Chase.
The problem is, he’s already let odds-on backers down once at a Cheltenham Festival and for all that ground conditions may have been a valid excuse that day, plenty will not be prepared to have their fingers burnt again.
So, are there alternatives to the market leader, in the Cheltenham odds?
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Will They Or Won’t They?
By some distance the biggest threats to Shishkin are trained in Ireland and they are Blue Lord and Janidil.
Gordon Elliott looks set to rely on Fury Road who has about a stone to find with a peak-form Shishkin.
Fury Road is a Grade 1 winning chaser (as a novice) and he made a good fist of it behind Galopin Des Champs in the Irish Gold Cup last time, but he can only really win the Ryanair if Shishkin underperforms.
If you think he might, then Fury Road has obvious each-way prospects.
Blue Lord is the other horse that could run huge if given his chance.
Blue Lord would have stamina to prove in a Ryanair, especially on a stiff track, but he’s a Grade 2 winner over two miles four and a half furlongs around Clonmel and he’s a strong finisher over shorter.
This issue with him, no matter which race he runs in, is that he blotted his copybook when beaten at long odds-on at the Dublin Racing Festival and that’s not ideal going into a Cheltenham Festival.
Allen A Place Contender
A theme among many of the likely candidates for this race is their in-and-out profile and Envoi Allen has become that sort of horse since his winning run ended at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.
He ran no sort of race in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day and was beaten 13 lengths in last year’s Champion Chase, but in between he’s landed a Grade 1 Ladbrokes Champion Chase, where beat horses like Kemboy, Conflated and Galvin.
If Henry De Bromhead can get him back to that sort of form, the Ryanair trip looks ideal, as would ground conditions, and he would have definite each-way claims at 12/1 with horse racing betting sites.
Can GA Lay Down The Law?
GA Law has attracted support on betting apps at 20/1 for the Ryanair Chase despite being rated at just 152 but there is potential for him to be rated higher.
This season’s Paddy Power Chase winner may well have followed up in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster last time had he not come down at the last.
That’s the first time this consistent horse has finished out of the three over fences but the fact that he was still not in front at the last suggests he really does need to take a major jump in form terms to be competitive.
That’s not impossible given his upward trajectory, but it’s a big ask.
2023 Queen Mother Champion Chase Verdict
Shishkin will probably win but he’s going to go off an odds-on chance and it would be remiss of us to not come up with an each-way alternative.
There are question marks around so many of his rivals, but Janadil could be the one to chase the favourite home.
Janadil was beaten 14 lengths when runner-up in the Ryanair Chase but the front three were a long way clear of the rest that day and he would probably have finished a bit closer to Allaho had he not been slightly hampered after the second last.
He returned with a bang in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park last month and that run should put him spot on for what has surely been his long-range target all season.
He looks the solid each-way alternative to Shishkin at 15/2 with betting sites.
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