Run heads Ryanair possibles

Dual winner Albertas Run heads the 38 entries for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham on March 15.

Dual winner Albertas Run heads the 38 entries for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham on March 15.

Jonjo O’Neill’s gelding has won the last two renewals of the two-mile-five-furlong Grade One prize and could bid for a hat-trick in 2012, although he does also hold an entry in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Last season’s Jewson Novices’ Chase winner Noble Prince heads the ante-post lists for Paul Nolan having performed with credit over shorter distances in Ireland so far this season.

“Hopefully, Noble Prince will run in the Ryanair Chase. He goes for the Normans Grove Chase at Fairyhouse on January 22 and that will be his final run before he heads to Cheltenham,” said Nolan.

“We were very pleased with him at Leopardstown. Big Zeb beat us easily in the end but it was a very good run from our horse and I think that he will improve with a faster pace.

“He’s still a decent enough two-mile chaser but two miles and five furlongs around Cheltenham is right up his street.

“He travelled and jumped well in the Jewson last season. The Ryanair will obviously be a different gravy this time and it looks like it will be a very competitive contest.”

Another major challenger from the Emerald Isle is the Robbie Hennessy-trained Rubi Light, a highly-creditable third in the race last season and arguably an improved horse now judged on his Grade One victory earlier in the campaign.

Captain Chris, Wishfull Thinking, Riverside Theatre and Great Endeavour are other notable contenders.

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