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Al Ferof to be aimed at Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham Festival

Al Ferof is now among the favourites for the Ryanair Chase after Paul Nicholls ruled out going for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup at this year's Festival following a tired effort at Newbury on Saturday.

The nine-year-old was beaten 25 lengths by Harry Topper in the Betfair Denman Chase and although he would clearly prefer better going than the heavy ground he encountered over the weekend, Nicholls still feels dropping back in trip is the best option.

The Ditcheat handler said: "I took him out of the Gold Cup and the Ryanair looks made for him, although there is also the option of the Champion Chase if it's very soft."

Al Ferof has a fine record at Cheltenham, having finished second of 24 behind Cue Card in the 2010 Champion Bumper on his first Festival appearance, before obliging in the following year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

Although only fourth in the 2012 Arkle, finishing well adrift of Sprinter Sacre, he did win a Grade 2 novice chase at Prestbury Park that season and returned to pick up another valuable prize in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.

Al Ferof began this season by beating French Opera in a match at Ascot and was third in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day behind stablemate Silviniaco Conti prior to a disappointing display at Newbury.

However, Nicholls had insisted before that run that his charge would strip fitter for the outing and he could still be a major player at the festival over 2m 5f, in a race Nicholls won in 2005 with Thisthatandtother and two years later with Taranis.


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Al Ferof to be aimed at Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham Festival

Al Ferof is now among the favourites for the Ryanair Chase after Paul Nicholls ruled out going for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup at this year's Festival following a tired effort at Newbury on Saturday.

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