Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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Back-to-Back Ryanair Wins for Admirable Albertas Run

Some horses were simply born to run at the Cheltenham Festival and the high-class Jonjo O’Neill-trained Albertas Run is definitely one of those horses. He demonstrated yet again just what a fine performer he is at the Prestbury track in winning Thursday’s Grade 1 Ryanair Chase for the second year running and could now head again to Aintree in an attempt to repeat last year’s festival double, writes Elliot Slater.

Albertas Run

Albertas Run

When the Jonjo O’Neill-trained 10-year-old sustained a horrendous fall at Ascot in November, a tragedy for Irish racing, whilst still upsides Master Minded in the 1965 Amblin Chase, (the first and only fall of his 31 race career), there were a horrible few moments when the thought crossed the collective mind of many race goers that the popular Accordion gelding might not get back to his feet. He did though, although he was reportedly very shaken by the experience.

In hindsight, he probably hadn’t fully recovered when asked to tackle Kauto Star and Long Run in the King George VI Chase at Kempton, and was never travelling well before pulling up at the 13th fence. The two month break since Kempton and the arrival of spring appears to have made all the difference, (allied to a return to his beloved Cheltenham), but it still took the persuasive powers of champion jockey AP McCoy to convince O’Neill and owner Trevor Hemming that Albertas Run was still capable of running well in the ‘Ryanair’ and would be a good bet for Irish racing tips.

McCoy was spot on, and Albertas Run put up a brilliant performance to make most of the running and hold on bravely to beat Kalahari King by a length to record his third Grade 1 success at the showcase jumps fixture in the last four years; he also won the 2008 RSA Chase. The plan appears once again to be to head to Aintree in three weeks time for the Grade 1 John Smith’s Melling Chase, a race in which he beat Forpadydeplasterer last term by over three-lengths.

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