Monday 17 August 2020

Cheltenham Festival - Festival Trophy

The Festival Trophy and the Ryanair Chase are one and the same race. The names are often used interchangeably to refer to the Grade 1 race run on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival.

The race is a Grade 1 chase event on National hunt’s calendar that admits racehorses five years and older. The competition takes place on the left-handed, turf New Cheltenham Course over a
distance of 4,225 metres (2 mi 5 furlongs) with seventeen fence hurdles acting as obstacles on the competitors’ path.

The race has been run for slightly over a decade, with the first edition happening during the 2005 festival. That event was sponsored by news outlet Daily Telegraph. Ryanair picked up the sponsorship from the second edition and the race has been known as the Ryanair Chase since
then. The sponsorship offers one of the festival’s biggest purses which is somewhere around £275,000. That translates to over £150,000 for the winning horse.

Cheltenham Festival’s leading jockey Ruby Walsh has had a lovely run in this race as well. He won the inaugural event atop Paul Nicholls-trained nine-year-old horse Thisthatandtother. He was again
the first-place finisher in 2007, this time riding six-year-old Taranis who also came from Nicholls’ training stable.

Walsh had an extended absence from the winners’ dais in this race from 2007, only sweeping first honours again in 2016 when he rode Willie Mullins-trained Vautour who was aged seven years. Trainer and Jockey were at it again in 2017 when they entered nine-year-old Un de Sceaux and went on to finish in the first position. The 2017 win tool Ruby Walsh to a record four wins while Mullins joined the class of trainers whose horses have won two races. Other trainers in this category include Paul Nicholls, David Pipe, Nicky Henderson and Jonjo O’ Neill. A Mullins-Walsh partnership is
heavily tipped to set a new record for both jockey and trainer

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