Back Ryanair-bound Al Ferof at Cheltenham before price shrinks

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Al Ferof will run in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival after the nine-year-old was removed from the Queen Mother Champion Chase entries on Thursday.

The Paul Nicholls-trained horse sits at the head of the ante-post betting along with three other rivals for the Thursday race, at 4/1.

However, comparing his record to those of his fellow favourites it would be wise to make use of Ladbrokes being Non Runner No Bet in every Cheltenham race, to get on the gelding before his price tumbles on race day.

The John Hales-owned grey is joined at the top-end of the market by Benefficient, who has only ran close to the Ryanair’s 2m5f trip once in his last four outings, finishing a 36-length fourth to Harry Topper at Wetherby on good to soft ground.

Last season’s Jewson victor also hasn’t had a run in 2014. Then there’s Dynaste, who Al Ferof beat when finishing third in the King George at Kempton over Christmas.

Finally there is First Lieutenant from the Gigginstown House Stud. He’d be dropping down from his usual trip to compete in the Ryanair, which he did unsuccessfully in finishing as runner-up to Cue Card in this very race last year, and will likely provide a stern test.

The fact remains, though, that he doesn’t have a winning pedigree as a chaser, having won just three of his 18 starts over fences.

Al Ferof is also dropping in trip at the Ryanair and has the experience of a high-class performance in the 2012 Paddy Power Gold Cup over course and distance to fall back on.

Take his general record at Prestbury Park into account too – three wins, a second and a fourth in five starts – and it’s clear which way your money should be going.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.