Mullins pair lead strong Irish challenge in Ryanair

Ireland supplies eight of 12-strong field

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Stable companions Footpad and Un De Sceaux are among 12 horses declared for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.

Footpad was the undoubted star of the two-mile novice chasing division last season – winning each of his five starts, including the Arkle Trophy at Prestbury Park last March.

The current campaign has not gone to plan thus far – with the seven-year-old falling on his seasonal debut at Naas before being mowed down late by Simply Ned at Leopardstown over Christmas – but he is still the clear favourite for Thursday’s two-mile-five-furlong Grade One.

Willie Mullins also runs the admirable Un De Sceaux – winner of this race in 2017 but beaten at odds-on by Balko Des Flos in last year’s renewal.

Balko Des Flos is back to defend his crown as one of three runners for Henry de Bromhead – the others being recent Red Mills Chase winner Monalee and outsider Sub Lieutenant.

Road To Respect is a leading contender for Noel Meade after connections elected against a second tilt at the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup – in which he finished fourth last year.

Eddie Harty’s Coney Island and Gordon Elliott’s The Storyteller complete a formidable Irish challenge.

The home team is made up of the Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon, Venetia Williams’ Aso, Nicky Henderson’s Terrefort and Charbel from Kim Bailey’s yard.

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Cheltenham 14:50, 14 March 2019

Cheltenham 14:50, 14 March 2019

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