A total of 27 horses have stood their ground at the latest declaration stage for the two-mile-five-furlongs Grade 1 Ryanair Chase at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival on March 14, amongst them the reigning Queen Mother Champion Chaser, Finian’s Rainbow, and the 2011 winner, Sizing Europe, writes Elliot Slater.
There was little to separate the crack two-milers at Cheltenham last season when they fought out a tremendous finish to the ‘Queen Mother’, a race that saw them having to bypass the final fence, which resulted in bumping and boring between the pair as they went toe-to-toe on the uphill run to the line.
The Nicky Henderson-trained Finian’s Rainbow eventually wrestled the crown away from Sizing Europe, so the prospect of a rematch over a longer trip already has punters sitting up and taking notice. Both horses can be backed at 7/1, according to pundits offering horse tips for the big race.
The current market leader Cue Card (5/1), and second-favourite, First Lieutenant (11/2), were both amongst the declarations for the eagerly anticipated contest, the former having been seen most recently finishing fifth to Long Run in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
That race appeared to finally settle the argument as to whether or not he stayed three miles; he did not, fading badly in the straight.
The Ryanair Chase trip looks perfect for Cue Card and will also prove no problem to First Lieutenant, narrowly beaten in a pulsating finish to the Grade 1 Lexus Chase at Leoparstown’s Christmas fixture in a ding-dong battle with old-stager, Tidal Bay.
Riverside Theatre (10/1), winner of last year’s renewal, and Albertas Run (25/1), who won in both 2010 & 2011 before failing by just half-a length to complete a race hattrick last March, are other notable contenders in what promises to be a terrific contest.