The Ryanair Chase At Cheltenham Festival

ryan air chase

The Ryanair Chase, a prominent fixture at the Cheltenham Festival, has a rich history filled with exciting races and standout performances. Established in 2005, this Grade 1 National Hunt race has consistently delivered thrilling moments for horse racing fans.

Over the years, it has attracted some of the finest horses and jockeys in the sport, cementing its status as a must-watch event.

Known for its competitiveness and high stakes, the Ryanair Chase offers a purse of considerable value, drawing top contenders from across the racing world.

Legendary names like Willie Mullins, Paul Nicholls, and Ruby Walsh have left their mark on this prestigious race, showcasing their skills and expertise.

From unexpected upsets to incredible comebacks, the Ryanair Chase has provided fans with unforgettable moments that epitomise the spirit of Cheltenham Festival’s electrifying atmosphere.

Renowned TrainerWillie Mullins
Prominent JockeyRuby Walsh
Successful RacehorseAlbertas Run, Allaho
Prize for the Winner£211,012.5
Race Distance2m4f127y

The Origins of the Ryanair Chase

Inception of the Race

The Ryanair Chase was first introduced to the Cheltenham Festival in 2005, named after the airline company that became its inaugural sponsor. This Grade 1 National Hunt steeplechase quickly gained popularity because of its challenging course and competitive field, attracting top horses and jockeys year after year.

Evolution of Sponsorship

Over the years, the Ryanair Chase has seen various sponsors backing the prestigious event, showcasing their support for the sport of horse racing. From the initial partnership with Ryanair, the race has continued to attract renowned sponsors, enhancing its reputation and prize money. Sponsorship plays a significant role in the growth and success of events like the Ryanair Chase, drawing attention from fans and industry professionals alike.

Memorable Milestones

Key Changes in Race Conditions

The Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival has seen significant changes in race conditions over the years. One key change was the race being upgraded to Grade 1 status in 2008, elevating its prestige and attracting top-class competitors such as Willie Mullins’ Envoi Allen and Rachael Blackmore’s top rides. Another notable change was the distance of the race, which was initially run over 2 miles and 5 furlongs before being extended to 2 miles and 4 ½ furlongs.

Notable Firsts in Race History

The Ryanair Chase has witnessed several notable firsts in its history, including the first female jockey to win the race with Rachael Blackmore’s victory aboard A Plus Tard in 2021. Other significant firsts include the first Irish-trained winner with Nicky Henderson’s 2020 triumph with the Irish Gold Cup, and the first time the race was incorporated into the Cheltenham Festival in 2005.

These milestones have added to the rich tapestry of the Ryanair Chase’s history, showcasing the evolution and growth of the race as a premier event in the Cheltenham Festival calendar.

Legendary Horses and Jockeys

Champion Horses through the Decades

The Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival has witnessed the rise of many champion horses over the decades. From the incredible Albertas Run, winner in 2010 and 2011, to the talented Cue Card who triumphed in 2013, these horses have left a lasting legacy in the race’s history.

The likes of Imperial Aura, Fakir Doudairies, and Blue Lord have also captured the hearts of racing enthusiasts with their exceptional performances in recent years, adding to the rich tapestry of the event.

Celebrated Jockeys of the Ryanair Chase

Certain jockeys have left a lasting mark on the history of horse racing by their exceptional accomplishments in the Ryanair Chase. 

Jockeys such as Rachael Blackmore, Ruby Walsh, and Paul Townend have excelled in guiding their mounts to victory at this prestigious event.

Their skill, tenacity, and unwavering dedication to the sport have earned them a revered status among both fans and fellow riders.

These celebrated Cheltenham jockeys bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the Ryanair Chase, making each race a thrilling spectacle for spectators worldwide. Their ability to form a strong partnership with their horses, navigate challenging courses, and execute strategic race tactics sets them apart as true legends of the sport.

Trainer Triumphs and Tactics

Profile of Successful Trainers

Trainers such as Willie Mullins, Nicky Henderson, and Paul Nicholls have shown exceptional prowess in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham Festival. Mullins, with his skilled training techniques and strategic race planning, has secured victories with the likes of Un De Sceaux and Allaho.

Henderson’s meticulous preparation has led to triumphs with the legendary Altior, while Nicholls’ expertise has been exemplified through the success of Frodon and Cue Card in the prestigious race.

Winning Strategies in the Ryanair Chase

Successful trainers in the Ryanair Chase have often employed tactics that involve a careful balance of pace and stamina. The ability to judge when to push for the lead and when to conserve energy for the final stretch is crucial in this fiercely competitive race.

Trainers like Mullins have excelled in finding the right jockey-horse combination and adapting race tactics according to track conditions and competition.

Furthermore, strategies that focus on maintaining a strong position throughout the race while conserving energy for a powerful finish have proven to be effective in securing victory at the Ryanair Chase.

Trainers who can successfully navigate the demanding course at Cheltenham and devise race strategies accordingly often emerge as the most formidable competitors in this prestigious event.

The Ryanair Chase Course

Description of the Track

The Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival takes place on the left-handed New Course, covering a distance of about 2 miles and 5 furlongs. Known for its undulating and challenging terrain, the course tests the stamina and jumping abilities of top-class horses.

With several fences to navigate, including tricky downhill jumps, the track demands precision and skill from both jockeys and horses.

Challenges and Technicalities of the Course

One of the most challenging aspects of the Ryanair Chase course is the uphill finish, where tired horses must dig deep and find reserves of energy. The undulating nature of the track also means that pace judgment is crucial, with an excessive early speed often proving costly in the latter stages.

Jockeys must strike the right balance between conserving energy and making timely moves to position themselves for the final push towards the finish line.

The jumping challenges on the track require impeccable timing and agility from both horse and rider. The positioning of each fence, including sharp bends and tricky combinations, adds an element of unpredictability to the race.

Only the most skilled and experienced partnerships can navigate these obstacles successfully and emerge victorious in the prestigious Ryanair Chase.

Iconic Races and Rivalries

When looking back at the history of the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham Festival, it’s hard not to think of the famous runners and riders that have kept fans on the edge of their seats.

One such partneship that stands out is between the legendary jockey Ruby Walsh and the talented horse Cue Card. Their rides on the track were epic, with both showcasing their skill and determination to win.

Another memorable ride was between jockey Paul Townend and Nico de Boinville, whose fierce competition added even more excitement to the race.

Upsets and Surprises

Over the years, the Ryanair Chase has seen its fair share of upsets and surprises, keeping the race unpredictable and thrilling for spectators. One notable upset was when the underdog horse Imperial Aura stunned the crowd by beating the favourite Fakir Doudairies.

Such unexpected outcomes are what make horse racing so exhilarating, as anything can happen on the day. These surprises add to the anticipation and suspense surrounding the race, making it a must-watch event for fans of the sport.

It is these unexpected twists and turns that truly capture the essence of the Ryanair Chase and make it a race that fans eagerly anticipate year after year.

Race Coverage

Readers seeking information on the Ryanair Chase can access it through various broadcasting channels, ensuring they do not miss a moment of the race at the Cheltenham Festival.

Cheltenham Live Streaming

Fans can watch the Ryanair Chase live on the internet. Cheltenham Festival streams are available through various betting sites as long as the user has an active wager on the race.

ITV Racing Coverage

ITV Racing presents the Ryanair Chase to viewers free of charge. This service, available on television and online via the ITV Hub, allows enthusiasts to follow all the action as it unfolds.

Sky Sports Racing

Sky Sports Racing offers comprehensive coverage of the Ryanair Chase. Subscribers can witness every leap and sprint from the comfort of their homes or on the go via the Sky Go app.

Racing TV

Racing TV is a dedicated horse racing channel that showcases the Ryanair Chase among its selection. This subscription service caters to die-hard racing fans looking for in-depth analysis and uninterrupted coverage.

The Impact on Horse Racing Culture

The Ryanair Chase’s Place in National Hunt Racing

The Ryanair Chase, part of the prestigious Cheltenham Festival, has solidified its place as a key event in the National Hunt racing calendar.

With legends like Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh being associated with past winners such as Cue Card, the race has gained significant recognition and respect within the horse racing community.

The Gold Cup may be the highlight of the festival, but the Ryanair Chase has carved its own niche as a thrilling and highly competitive race that showcases top-class talent.

How the Race Has Shaped Betting and Fandom

The Ryanair Chase has not only captivated fans with its exhilarating displays of skill and speed, but it has also had a significant impact on betting trends and fandom. The odds for the race, including those for the Ryanair Steeple Chase and Ascot Chase, have become hot topics among punters and bookmakers alike.

With top jockeys like Paul Townend and Rachael Blackmore in the mix, the race has attracted a dedicated following that eagerly anticipates the outcomes and revels in the excitement of the betting experience.

Recent Years and the Future

Analysis of Recent Winners

Recent years have seen a mix of talented horses triumph in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham Festival. Notable winners include the likes of Imperial Aura, Fakir Doudairies, and Balko Des Flos.

These victories have showcased the diversity of contenders in the race, with trainers like Henry de Bromhead and jockeys such as Rachael Blackmore making their mark on this prestigious event.

The Race’s Evolving Prestige

As the Ryanair Chase continues to establish itself as a key race at Cheltenham Festival, its prestige has been on the rise. With top trainers like Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson targeting this race with their star horses, the level of competition has intensified.

The increased interest from racing fans and the betting community further highlights the growing importance of the Ryanair Chase on the festival’s schedule.

Other Key Cheltenham Festival Races

The Cheltenham Festival hosts a spectrum of prestigious races alongside the Ryanair Chase. They form the core of the National Hunt racing season, attracting top horses and jockeys.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

The Cheltenham Gold Cup stands as the festival’s jewel. This Group 1 race sets the stage for elite steeplechasers to compete over 3 miles 2½ furlongs. Winners etch their names in history, demonstrating both speed and stamina.

Queen Mother Champion Chase

This event offers a display of raw speed and precision over 2 miles. The Queen Mother Champion Chase is a highlight for two-mile chasers, facing 13 jumps in their quest for victory.

Champion Bumper

The Champion Bumper, a race for the stars of tomorrow, bypasses fences and hurdles over a distance of 2 miles ½ furlong. It’s a flat race that allows novices to shine without the challenge of jumps.

Grand National Insights

The Grand National, although not part of the Cheltenham Festival, is a significant steeplechase within the racing calendar. Held at Aintree, it tests participants over 4 miles 514 yards with 30 fences, making it a unique spectacle.

Many horses that perform well in the Ryan Air Chase eventually do well in the Grand National.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history of the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival?

The Ryanair Chase was first introduced to the Cheltenham Festival in 2005 as a Grade 2 National Hunt steeplechase.

What are some highlights of the Ryanair Chase over the years?

Some notable highlights include Albertas Run winning the race twice in 2010 and 2011, and Cue Card winning in 2013.

What are some recent trends in the Ryanair Chase?

In recent years, the Ryanair Chase has seen an increase in Irish-trained horses winning the race, adding to the excitement for fans and punters.


The Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham Festival is a prestigious Grade 1 National Hunt steeplechase that was first run in 2005. Named after the airline company, Ryanair, this race covers a distance of about 2 miles and 4 ½ furlongs and is open to horses aged five years and older.

Over the years, this race has produced some thrilling moments and memorable champions, with past winners including the likes of Cue Card, Albertas Run, and Un De Sceaux. The Ryanair Chase has become a major highlight of the Cheltenham Festival, attracting top-class competitors and drawing in crowds from around the world.

With top trainers such as Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson often targeting this race with their talented horses, the Ryanair Chase promises excitement and fierce competition every year.

Jockeys like Ruby Walsh and Paul Townend have displayed exceptional skill in guiding their mounts to victory in this challenging contest. As the anticipation builds for the next edition of Cheltenham Festival, fans and punters alike eagerly await the latest news, odds, and tips for the Ryanair Chase, making it one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the racing calendar..