VAUTOUR is the headline horse in this year's Ryanair Chase. Is he a good thing Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83)?
14:50 Cheltenham | Channel 4
Well the complexion of this race has changed significantly in the last few days. The addition of Vautour has blown the market apart with many runners twice the price they were on Sunday. Ante-post punters have been critical of the decision but these things happen in racing and we have to take it on the chin.
Vautour is now favourite for the race and is a shade of odds on across the board and on form he deserves to be. He is a cut above his rivals and I'm slightly surprised he isn't shorter.
He loves the track, and last season he was spectacular over course and distance in the JLT. So after reading that you're going to assume I'm backing him, but you're wrong! I can't back him here.
He was rerouted here after a poor workout told connections to miss the Gold Cup in favour of this. As good as he is if he didn't work up to scratch over the weekend you can't back him with confidence. Could he still win at 90%? Yes. Do I want to back a horse that connections weren't happy with at the weekend? No. He may still win but I'm looking elsewhere for some value.
I have backed Al Ferof ante-post to win this and until Vatour was added I was confident he would run a huge race. I still think he'll run well but Vatour's presence deflates me a little.
He has a fantastic record at this course and he goes well fresh however he has a lot to find with Vatour on King George form but I expect him to run a solid race.
Valseur Lido has fallen and unseated on his last two starts but is still an interesting runner. At Kempton he came down late on when well beaten in the King George, however last time out he was going to go close to winning the Irish Gold Cup before unseasting at the last.
However that race was on heavy ground over further and the drop back in trip, the faster ground and his suspect jumping is enough to put me off him.
The one I like here at the prices is Road To Riches from the Noel Meade yard. He ran a huge race last season when third in the Gold Cup behind Coneygree and followed that up with another third behind Don Cossack in the Punchestown Gold Cup.
He won well earlier in the season over 2 miles 4 at Clonmel in a Grade 2 and he looked very good. Yes, he ran flat in the Irish Gold Cup but he didn't like the ground and I expect this course, trip and ground to see him at his best here. If Vatour turns up 100% he will take some beating but I'm taking a chance on Road to Riches each way here on the off chance he doesn't.
14:50 Cheltenham – Road To Riches each way (7/1 Ladbrokes)
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