On Monday it was revealed that two-time Ryanair Chase winner Allaho will not be racing for a third crown at the Cheltenham Festival next month after suffering an abdominal bleed.
The Willie Mullins-trained horse was setting out to make it a hat-trick in the Thursday race at the festival having claimed victory in both 2021 and 2022, ridden by Rachael Blackmore and Paul Townend respectively.
Having dominated this race for the past two years, trainers and owners have been careful about their entries for the Ryanair Chase because Allaho was viewed as unstoppable. While the news of Allaho’s absence is going to be a huge loss for the festival, it provides a big opportunity for the rest of the field and we might see some new entries come into the fray.
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Trainers and connections will be feeling the winds of change swooshing in another direction that could alter their arrangements for the four-day meeting. Here are some of the horses that might be set to enter the Ryanair Chase with Allaho out of the picture.
Fakir D’oudairies - 3/1 (FAV)
Having been beaten by Allaho by 12 lengths in the Ryanair two years ago, Fakir D’oudairies didn’t make a return to the race in 2022. In quotes recently surrounding the eight-year-old, it seemed as though owner JP McManus and trainer Joseph O’Brien were looking ahead to Aintree as the horse’s priority.
It now appears that a return to the Ryanair will be a formality given he is a four-time Grade 1 winner. He is the short-price favourite to win the Ascot Chase on Saturday too which will be a great indicator of where he is at with his calendar set to have a new alteration.
Blue Lord - 3/1
Allaho’s stablemate is entered in both the Champion Chase and the Ryanair, but it makes sense for Blue Lord to line up in the latter now. Winner of the Clonmel Oil Chase over an intermediate trip on his return, he surged into the Champion Chase picture with his Grade 1 win at Leopardstown over Christmas, but he subsequently backfired over the same two miles and a furlong at the Dublin Racing Festival. The way he stuck on gamely at Clonmel suggests the Cheltenham test will not be an issue for him.
Conflated - 5/1
Trainer Gordon Elliott said last week that Conflated was made for the Gold Cup, but Allaho's absence from the Ryanair is likely to give connections a huge decision to make. Conflated has looked better than ever this term, winning the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, but his stamina for the Gold Cup test remains unproven, especially as he can travel vigorously in his races. He contested the Ryanair 12 months ago and looked booked for second prior to a fall at the second-last, and that 2m4½f trip might be his optimum at Cheltenham this time around.
*18+ | Odds Courtesy Of Betfred | BeGambleAware | Non-Runner No Bet