2021 Cheltenham Festival preview – Rich Ricci Cheltenham Festival fancies
Rich Ricci Cheltenham Festival runners
One of the most successful racehorse owners in recent times whose pink and lime green silks have been carried to victory by the likes of Annie Power, Douvan and Vautour amongst others Rich and Susannah Ricci will have a number of runners across all four days of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival and some notable big chances of collecting further Festival glory. We look over some of the likely Rich Ricci Cheltenham Festival runners and their chances.
American-born Rich Ricci has in recent years become one of the most promient racehorse owners in Britain and Ireland, thanks in part to his association with Willie Mullins and the pair have combined to send out the likes of Annie Power, Douvan, Vautour, Faugheen and Champagne Fever amongst a host of others to win at the Cheltenham Festival.
The last couple of seasons has seen the Ricci dominance pale somewhat but a resurgence could be just around the corner at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival where the famous pink silks with lime green spots could very well return to the winners’ enclosure several times during the four days of the ‘greatest show on turf’.
We’ve picked out a few Rich Ricci Cheltenham Festival runners who are likely to make their presence felt and could scoop big prizes across the four days.
2021 CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL – RICH RICCI CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL FANCIES
Ricci colours could be carried by both Saldier and SHARJAH in the day one Cheltenham Festival feature with the latter holding fair claims if bouncing back from a lesser run in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
Runner-up in this race twelve months ago when beaten three lengths by Epatante he ran twice on the flat over the summer before getting back on track with a win at Leopardstown over Aspire Tower in the Matheson Hurdle and the heavy ground latest might not have suited.
Less testing ground come March will be more suitable and the Doctor Dino gelding is no back number turning out here if back to his best although having travelled well into the race last year he didn’t appear to come up the hill as well as the winner and may find one or two too good again.
National Hunt Chase
Running plans are unclear for ROYALE PAGAILLE who holds entries in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase and Gold Cup but with Monkfish in the former and the Gold Cup likely requiring a big step up again from the Peter Marsh Chase winner this Tuesday contest could be the final destination for Venetia Williams’ runner.
The Blue Bresil gelding has progressed well this term having been beaten on both starts last campaign following his arrival from France, winning all three starts this term in impressive fashion and he never came off the bridle in posting a 16 lengths victory over Potters Corner in the Grade Two Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock in January.
The Gold Cup would present a much sterner test of his credentials but he’s clearly thriving and could improve again although the easier assignment of the National Hunt Chase where he’d go up again in trip might suit the strong-staying seven-year old with a view to a possible Gold Cup challenge in future seasons.
Rich Ricci Cheltenham runners on day two
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
The Cheltenham Festival day two opener could see two Rich Ricci-owned runners in the contest although both feature at big odds with GRAND BORNAND and N’Golo both possible contenders.
The latter has several entries over the course of the Festival where the Galileo gelding also features in the Coral Cup, County Hurdle, Albert Bartlett and the Martin Pipe Hurdle and he’s more likely to head to one of those in preference to this Grade One contest.
So it is more likely the former will represent the top owner in the day two opener where the Montmartre might benefit from a step up in trip.
A French bumper winner he’s been beaten on both runs in Ireland to date, finishing fourth at Cork when sent off favourite behind Thedevilscoachman but improving on that first run to find only one too good at Fairyhouse next time.
He’ll need to improve markedly for the additional distance while his form will have to take a sharp upward turn; but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a good run from the five year old for all he might not be up to the task of winning.
Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase
Royale Pagaille could feature here but has other options at the Cheltenham Festival and with MONKFISH also in the line-up it’s likely he’ll take up one of his other engagements.
But Willie Mullins’ charge could be hard to beat in any case and the Stowaway gelding deservedly heads the ante-post market for this race.
Hugely progressive over hurdles last term culminating in a win in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle he is 3-3 over fences this term, impressively beating old rival Latest Exhibition in the Flogas Novice Chase and with further improvement still to come he out to prove a very tough nut to crack and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he dominates again.
Four Rich Ricci-owned runners could feature here with N’Golo, Tiger Tap Tap, Low Sun and KOSHARI all possible entries.
Of the quartet it might be the Walk In The Park gelding who boasts strongest claims and the smart dual-purpose performer has wins over fences and hurdles earlier in his career.
A winner on his return from more than two years off at Cork in January he possibly found the three miles stretching him when last seen at Leopardstown, finishing sixth to Maze Runner having made a bad mistake early.
A 144 rating in Ireland could see him given a nice weight and the drop back in distance could suit, while the typically strong pace to this race can see him deliver a big run and he could be worth a Cheltenham Festival free bet each-way play in the competitive contest assuming he lines up.
The Riccis could have both Min and CHACUN POUR SOI both line up in the day two feature and both also feature in the entries for the Ryanair Chase. That could be a more likely target for the former but the latter is sure to take his chance in this contest where he could be hard to beat.
The Policy Maker was fancied to land this prize twelve months ago but was a late scratching from the race along with Altior; but all being well this campaign he’s sure to take his chances in this contest and the ante-post favourite for the race looks set for another big performance having won all three races this campaign which include two at Leopardstown in Grade One company.
He beat Min in last season’s Dublin Chase and following a straightforward return where he brushed aside Darasso at Cork he then thumped Notebook in the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase and latterly ran out an eight-lengths’ victor over Fakir D’Oudairies – Min pulled up – in the Dublin Chase in February.
Likely to be primed again he’s the one to beat in the race despite the presence of defending champion Politologue and dual-Champion Chase winner Altior in opposition.
Rich Ricci Cheltenham Festival runners on day three
Chacun Pour Soi holds an entry for this contest but is sure to forego his place in the line-up in favour of the Champion Chase. MIN too has entries in both contests but having already twice been beaten by Chacun Pour Soi it might see the Walk In The Park gelding head again to this race which he won twelve months ago.
Willie Mullins’ charge held off Saint Calvados by a neck on that occasion and the classy ten-year old ought to give another good account if bouncing back from a poor run latest at Leopardstown where he didn’t jump well.
He’d won the time before at Punchestown but he’d been beaten on his previous start when coming here to win the Ryanair Chase and connections will be hoping lightning strikes twice where he could easily bounce back to form in the day three Cheltenham Festival feature.
Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase
LIVELOVELAUGH features in the entries for this contest where the Beneficial gelding could give a good account although it’s been a while since he last won and his losing streak could be set to continue.
It’ll be three years since his last win at Cork back in January 18 but he’s run a number of good races in defeat and finished eighth in last season’s Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate. He’s also placed twice last summer over fences and returned from five months off to finish a very good third behind off You Go at Leopardstown in February.
Proven in big fields and with past Cheltenham Festival form to his name it isn’t hard to imagine him running another big race.
Dawn Run Mares’ Hurdle
The Ricci colours have already been carried to victory three times in this race and HOOK UP can be fancied to give the top owner another win in the contest.
Fair on the flat in France she finished down the field in last season’s Triumph Hurdle, but she has progressed well this term with a win at Fairyhouse on his reappearance and then finding only one too good next time in Royal Kahala at Fairyhouse.
The No Risk At All mare improved again to finish a very good fourth behind Appreciate It at Leopardstown latest behind Appreciate It and back against her own sex she ought to give a very good account and no surprise to see her back on the scoresheet.
Rich Ricci’s Cheltenham Festival day four hopes
N’Golo and Tiger Tap both hold entries but have other options at the Festival and SALDIER looks likely to take in this race rather than the Champion Hurdle on day four of the Festival where the classy Soldier Hollow gelding can make his presence felt.
A dual-Grade One winner earlier in his career he hasn’t set the heather alight in two starts this term in top-level contests behind Sharjah and Honeysuckle in runs at Leopardstown, beaten a long way latest in the Irish Champion Hurdle when failing to beat a rival.
Perhaps not as good as he was in his younger days he could get a new lease of life handicapping and if taking in this race he can give a good account.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Ricci colours could be carried by Royal Pagaille and BURROWS SAINT although the former has other options and the test of a Gold Cup may just be a year too early for the improving Venetia Williams-trained gelding.
Burrows Saint looks hard to fancy though assuming he takes up an engagement here given he’s been racing back over hurdles in recent outings.
He has won three times over chases earlier in his career and the Aintree Grand National is his main target so he’s not certain to line up here. Even if he does he’ll be hard pushed to make his presence felt in this top-class contest.