Saturday 21 April 2018

Ryanair on Somersby radar

Thomas Kelly

Henrietta Knight will consider switching Somersby from the Queen Mother Champion Chase to the Ryanair Chase should conditions dry out appreciably at Cheltenham next week.

The trainer has been favouring the two-mile feature for last year's Irish Independent Arkle Trophy runner-up, but has kept Somersby in the Ryanair over an extra five furlongs just in case faster ground prevails.

"We're not ruling the Ryanair out. If it continues to dry we will have to decide nearer the time which race to go for," Knight said.

"He's in both. If it got dry I did always say, even at Ascot, if it was too dry he would be better over a longer distance for they would go too quick for him over two miles. We are keeping our options open. It's just to let the public know there is a possibility that we are still considering the other race as well as the Queen Mother."

Nicky Henderson's Zaynar will be aimed at the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival rather than the Champion Hurdle.

Part-owner and leading bookmaker Victor Chandler yesterday revealed discussions about which Festival race the grey will go for had reached a conclusion.

"Although his stamina must be taken on trust, Victor suggested that both Barry (Geraghty) and Nicky (Henderson) were optimistic that he would get the three miles and as he goes very well fresh, they were looking for a very good run," explained Charlie McCann, the bookmaker's spokesman.

Drying conditions at Cheltenham prompted clerk of the course Simon Claisse to change the official going last night to good to soft, good in places.

Meanwhile, following an inspection of the track at Wexford, the chases scheduled for the meeting on March 17 have been cancelled. The remaining races will be divided to form a six-race programme.

Irish Independent

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