RACING

Cheltenham Festival: What do connections say ahead of the Ryanair Chase?

The Ryanair Chase is a Grade One contest which will get underway at 2:50pm.

The conditions have been confirmed as soft, heavy in places after 9mm of rain overnight.

Willie Mullins trains the red-hot favourite and defending champion Un De Sceaux, while fan-favourite Cue Card, who won the race in 2013, is priced at 5/1.

Here is what the connections have had to say about their charges ahead of the showpiece event.

Un De Sceaux – 4/6

Willie Mullins, trainer: He will be attempting to win the race for the second consecutive year. He’s got plenty going for him, being a three-time winner over the course and he has won both his races this season in good style.

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I can report that we’re really happy with him. He’s in very good form and is really strong in himself. A really tough and consistent campaigner, who jumps very well, he will be well-suited by the ground conditions and has to have an excellent chance.

Cue Card – 5/1

Colin Tizzard, trainerHe’s been a brilliant horse, and he’s still a racehorse. This is his ninth season of racing but he’s as good as he’s ever been — he ran a hell of a race against Waiting Patiently.

He’s won the Ryanair before. He’s very good over two five and he has a great chance of winning the Ryanair.

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Frodon – 8/1

Paul Nicholls, trainerA model of consistency this season and performed well in his first Grade 1 last time at Ascot behind Waiting Patiently where he finished third and paid the price for being too keen in the first mile.

We will not be making the same mistake today and will be dropping him in at the start. It helps that Frodon relishes testing ground as he showed by winning a competitive handicap by seventeen lengths at Cheltenham in January, form that has been well franked since. The more it rains the better he will like it and I expect him to run very well.

Balko Des Flos – 10/1

Davy Russell, Jockey

Cloudy Dream – 10/1

Ruth Jefferson, trainer:  We felt he was unlucky in the Old Roan at Aintree and then we took on Fox Norton over two miles before he ran over three miles twice.

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“He’s very consistent and at a high level, I don’t think he’s done a lot wrong and most people would love to train him,”

Sub Lieutenant – 20/1

Henry De Bromhead, trainer: I’d love to have had another go at Un De Sceaux with Sub Lieutenant on nicer ground. I thought he completely lost his position last year and ran on like anything at the end. He is not as effective on soft ground but he will handle it.

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*all odds correct at time of publication.

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