Cheltenham: Ryanair Chase not Gold Cup best for Captain Chris

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Philip Hobbs has a major decision to make as to which race to target Captain Chris for the Cheltenham Festival, with the two leading options being the Cheltenham Gold Cup or less prestigious Ryanair Chase.

Given that Captain Chris won the Arkle at last year’s festival, it may seem more logical to allow the horse to take on his elders over 2m in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

But Captain Chris does seem to have lost a touch of speed and so it will be 2m5f in the Ryanair Chase or 3m2f in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

Having finished third in the King George, Captain Chris must certainly be considered to have each-way credentials in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

He is currently 12/1 in the betting and has been tipped by Pricewise in the Racing Post in his Cheltenham ante-post column.

Given the magnitude of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Hobbs must be tempted to run the horse given the prestige afforded to the winner.

However, Alverton in the 1970s was the last horse to complete the unique double of the Arkle and Gold Cup.

Furthermore, even though ground conditions at Kempton for the King George were not ideal for Captain Chris, he will still struggle to make up 18 lengths on Kauto Star and Long Run on a firmer surface.

The good news is that Ladbrokes are offering a refunded stake on all Cheltenham Gold Cup non runners, which could tempt punters into an each-way dabble.

Ryanair Chase

Stamina is another issue in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but Captain Chris should adequately stay 2m5f.

Furthermore, he is unlikely to run into the same calibre of opposition in the Ryanair Chase.

With Captain Chris liable to have one more run before Cheltenham, his performance in this should give a clearer indication into the plan for the festival.

Captain Chris is currently 10/1 in the Cheltenham odds for the Ryanair Chase and this is a massive price if this contest is his chosen route.

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