The Festival Trophy – otherwise known as the Ryanair Chase- is another Grade 1 race to be witnessed on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival. It has some pretty generous offerings as horses aged five years and over compete to clear seventeen obstacles and cover a distance of two miles and five full furlongs (4225m). It was introduced as a lower grade race as more events were required to increase the action when the festival was expanded to four day in 2005.
By 2010, it had become a highly competitive and popular race and it was then handed a first-grade ranking.
To this end, Albertas Run remains the leading horse in this event after sweeping first honours in 2010 and 2011. Five trainers hold a joint record of two wins each, among them Jonjo O’ Neill who rode Albertas run in both wins. Ruby Walsh has crossed the finish line atop the winning horse a record four times- twice before 2010 and twice after.
Ahead of the 2018, joint record trainer Nicky Henderson announced that he was withdrawing his horse Top Notch from the Festival Trophy. It was a disappointment to race fans who had tipped the
trainer to win the race, but he explained that recent performances and signs from the horse to his rider indicated he was not ready for the event.