Harry Allwood's second ante-post bet for this year's Cheltenham Festival is a Willie Mullins-trained contender chalked up at double-figure odds for the Ryanair Chase.
It is no surprise that Allaho is all the rage in the ante-post market at a general 7-4 for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival given the performance he produced from the front in last year’s contest.
He jumped beautifully, had his rivals in trouble before the turn for home and never looked in any danger of getting caught. The clock also confirmed that his effort was as good as it looked, and he beat a useful field in the process.
Willie Mullins’ star chaser returned with a gutsy victory in a high-class renewal of the John Durkan at Punchestown in December, which he will have almost certainly stripped fitter for, and connections have already confirmed he will contest the Ryanair Chase again this season.
However, it was Allaho’s stablemate JANIDIL who caught the eye on his return to action in the John Durkan, the form of which has worked out well, and at a best-priced 14-1 with Coral, he looks worth an investment ante-post for the Ryanair Chase.
Having been held up by Jody McGarvey, the eight-year-old crept into contention before he was slightly hampered by the loose Asterion Forlonge at the third-last fence and, by that point, Allaho had kicked for home and stolen an advantage on the field.
To his credit, Janidil found plenty under pressure when sent off in pursuit of the winner, but could not manage to reel in the deficit, and was beaten two lengths at the line, shaping as though he would improve for the outing.
The JP McManus-owned gelding, who made giant strides over hurdles after joining Willie Mullins from France, impressed on his chasing debut at the start of last season before being pitched into Grade One company on his next two starts.
His inexperience cost him, though, and his jumping was not up to scratch to be competitive at the highest level, which was probably the reason connections decided to bypass last year’s Cheltenham Festival with him.
However, he put his experience to good use in the Grade One Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse on his next start where his jumping was much slicker, and Asterion Forlonge was among the rivals he defeated there.
Ahead of this season, Mullins said that Janidil is "maturing all the time and getting stronger", so further improvement should be expected, especially as he has only had seven starts over fences.
His handler also advised that he was going to test Janidil over further this campaign, but he shaped like a non-stayer over three miles in the Savills Chase last time out, just like he did when fifth on his only visit to Cheltenham in the 2020 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
Watch how Janidil fared in the Savills Chase last time out
His rider, Mark Walsh, concluded he hadn't stayed and Mullins admitted he was disappointed with the run, which I think is a bit harsh as he may have still been feeling the effects of his run in the John Durkan 23 days earlier when contesting the Leopardstown feature, especially as Allaho has not been seen since which suggests he has taken a while to recover from his exertions, and the pair both had hard races.
Although he was unable to land a blow, Janidil was beaten less than eight lengths by Galvin and, bar a slight mistake early on, his jumping was good.
The fact the selection has a progressive profile and his jumping has improved this season are other reasons to believe he will have more to offer over the coming months, and the Horse And Jockey Hotel Chase, which Allaho won last year, at Thurles on January 23 is a potential target next, although he has been entered in the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival.
I would be surprised if he does not contest the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival this year, though – he has not been given an entry in the Cheltenham Gold Cup – and the extended 2m4f contest will be ideal for him.
Second-season novices have won six of the past ten renewals of the Ryanair Chase plus Mullins has won the race four times since 2016, which are other positives.
A career-best will be needed, but at double-figure odds, I can't resist an each-way bet on a contender who I don't think we have seen the best of yet.
Recommended bet: 1 point each-way on JANIDIL at 14-1 with Coral for the Ryanair Chase.
Harry's Cheltenham Festival portfolio:
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