Countdown to Cheltenham: Saint Calvados aimed at Ryanair


here is now little over a week to go until the start of the Cheltenham Festival, which means it’s that time of year where no news equals good news. 

Horses have had their prep runs and the majority of their serious work at home is done, too, meaning it’s a cotton-wool job between now and next week and fingers crossed we get through this little period without any major withdrawals. 

One horse for whom things certainly haven’t gone to plan is Nick Martin’s Bear Ghylls.

The trainer says she is on ‘Plan H’ with the Ballymore contender, who is four-out-of-four under rules, but has twice been denied a prep run by waterlogged tracks. 

“At the moment everything is going to Plan H, which we are on all it all got a bit messed up at the beginning but we’re back on course,” Martin said.

Calvados headed for Ryanair

Saint Calvados will look to go one better than last year’s second-place finish in the Ryanair Chase after connections decided against a Gold Cup tilt. 

The eight-year-old has been tried over three miles this season with a view to the Gold Cup but finished fourth in the King George before unseating in the Cotswolds Chase and will instead drop back to the intermediate trip.

“We didn’t find out if he truly stays in the Cotswold Chase,” said trainer Harry Whittington. “He’s an 8/1 or 9/1 chance for the Ryanair and he won’t even be confirmed for the Gold Cup.” 

We’ll get a clearer picture of races such as the novice hurdles which are full of double-entered horses later in the week, but one who definelty won’t be at Cheltenham is Thedevilscoachman, who trainer Noel Meade says will be kept for the Grade 2 at Fairyhouse instead.

“He isn’t travelling and will probably stay at home to run at Fairyhouse in the novice hurdle there,” Meade said. 

Meanwhile, Harry Fry declared himself delighted with second-favourite Metier ahead of the race after a smart piece of work at home.

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