There’s always something very poetic about the fact that the Ryanair Chase is held on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival.
Also known as ‘St. Patrick’s Thursday’ this is the day when literally tens of thousands of Irish racing fans make their way to Prestbury Park to cheer on their favourites.
With race sponsors Ryanair, being the biggest airline in Ireland, it seems only fitting that an Irish company is behind the feature race of the day.
It also helps that Ryanair CEO, Michael O’Leary owns Gigginstown House Stud, known for their maroon and white silks.
In fact, Balko Des Flos gave O’Leary his first win in the race he sponsors by storming home to victory in 2018.
So can he add another win to his collection, or will he have to take a back seat?
Let’s take a look at some of the 32 Ryanair Chase 2024 entries, their Cheltenham odds, and who we think has the best chance of taking the crown on March 15th.
Ryanair Chase 2024 Entries
As mentioned above, the race in 2024 has garnered 32 entries. However, only a maximum of 24 runners are actually allowed to run in the race.
That means over the next few weeks, we’ll see that number whittled down as trainers and connections pin their hopes on alternative races in the Festival or simply decide to bypass it altogether.
So who is in the mix in 2024?
Horses & Trainers
|Henry De Bromhead
|Henry De Bromhead
|Ash Tree Meadow
|Editeur Du Gite
Ryanair Chase 2024 Predictions
The list above is in descending order starting with the current ante-posts favourites. So first up is Allaho.
Given that the odds are already pretty tiny and only likely to get even smaller, Allaho doesn’t offer much value in the betting.
The bad news is that he already won this race in 2021 and 2022, so he has plenty of form and can’t be ignored.
He missed out on going for the hat-trick in 2023 when he suffered a rare abdominal bleed that ruled him out of contention.
So back for 2024, is there anybody that can stop him from making history by winning this race three times?
For my money, Jonbon from Nicky Henderson looks like he could pose the biggest challenge.
No stranger to the winner’s enclosure, Jonbon has won seven of his eight chase starts.
However, with two previous trips to the Festival resulting in two second-place finishes, does he lack that certain star power to go the distance?
Also worth noting is that he has an entry into the Queen Mother Champion Chase, so connections may opt for that route instead.
We then have Banbridge from Joseph O’Brien. He has a couple of years on Allaho, which will stand him in good stead, and technically, he is the faster of the two horses.
He won last time out at Kempton (Jan 13th, 2024) over the same distance as the Ryanair Chase but doesn’t necessarily have the same experience as some of the other runners.
Whether this will hinder or help him remains to be seen.
Lastly, we have Envoi Allen, and it would be remiss not to consider the current champion in the race.
Rachael Blackmore will be itching to give him another spin around the course, and if she plots the race correctly, she could prove the bookies wrong and defy her relatively long odds.
Given that around 10 runners will actually start the race, we will have to wait a bit longer to fully vet the contenders and make our determination.
It should come as absolutely no surprise that Willie Mullins is the leading trainer in this race.
With five wins under his belt, including Allaho (2022, 2021), he is back again in 2024 with what can only be described as a stronghold on the entries.
Of the 32 on the list, Mullins handles eight of them. Yes, that’s correct…25% of all entries for the Ryanair Chase 2024 come from Willie Mullins.
Five have been given multiple Cheltenham Festival entries, with only Allaho, Capodanno, and Classic Getaway being aimed only at the Ryanair.
In terms of jockeys, Ruby Walsh is the current leading rider with four wins. Clearly, he won’t be taking part in 2024, as he retired years ago.
So who is in a position to catch him up? Rachael Blackmore and Paul Townend are the obvious choices, having won the last four renewals between them. And both have won on Allaho!
So will it be a Blackmore-Townend showdown with Allaho and Envoi Allen?
Anything can happen at Cheltenham, so watch this space!