By Simon Jackson.
The past two winners of the £300,000 Ryanair Chase look set to clash in this year’s race after news that the Grade 1 contest is the intended target for both Cue Card and Dynaste.
Cue Card led from the outset when winning the two miles and five furlongs Grade 1 race two years ago where he was never headed and pushed on to score by nine lengths. He was ridden to victory by his trainer Colin Tizzard’s son Joe Tizzard, who has since retired from race-riding and is now assistant trainer to his father.
Cue Card missed last year’s Cheltenham Festival due to injury and has struggled to recapture his best form this season when ridden just off the pace. The ex-jockey on Tuesday revealed that connections have now decided to return to the more familiar front-running role, while confirming that the two miles and five furlong contest is the sole target.
“We haven’t even entered him in the Gold Cup, he’s only entered in the Ryanair and he’ll go straight there,” Joe Tizzard told At The Races.
“He had a really nasty over-reach after the King George and we only started cantering him again 10 days ago.
“If it had been a couple of centimetres higher it could have been really nasty.
“We think he could have done it on the first circuit when he made a mistake so it is bound to have affected him.
“Turning in he had every chance but didn’t quite get there, so we’ll go back to the Ryanair, which he won two years ago.
“Instead of holding on to him, we’ll go back to how we used to ride him – let him go, use his jumping and be positive on him.”
Meanwhile trainer David Pipe has confirmed that last year’s winner Dynaste is likely to defend his Ryanair crown, despite having run well in all of his three starts this season over longer distances.
The nine-year-old was third to Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Silviniaco Conti in the Betfair Chase, before finishing second to the same rival in the William Hill King George VI Chase. He was then third in the BetBright Chase won by Many Clouds on Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham last Saturday.
“The main talking point heading into Trials Day was which race Dynaste was likely to participate in come the Festival,” Pipe said on his website. “He was sent off favourite for the BetBright Cup over three miles and one and a half furlongs on Saturday but unfortunately the race did not really provide a satisfactory test at the trip and seemed to raise as many questions as it answered.
“Once again, Dynaste performed with credit but was unable to overhaul the improving Hennessy winner Many Clouds on the run-in, finishing third beaten less than two lengths.
“I certainly wouldn’t say he was beaten for stamina, although it is pertinent that his best performances have come over slightly shorter. With that in mind he is more likely to line up in the Ryanair Chase in March, although I am sure we will keep the Gold Cup option open until the last moment and not make a definitive decision until nearer the time.”
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.