Arvika Ligeonniere earns 10/1 quote for Cheltenham’s Ryanair Chase

Trainer Willie Mullins lands Clonmel Oil Chase for the first time

 Owner Rich Ricci  with Arvika Ligeonniere  after an earler victory at Leopardstown.

Owner Rich Ricci with Arvika Ligeonniere after an earler victory at Leopardstown.


Arvika Ligeonniere showed his undoubted ability when making a successful seasonal reappearance in the Clonmel Oil Chase at the Co Tipperary course yesterday.

Jumping well in the main on stepping back up to two and a half miles, the Willie Mullins-trained eight-year-old took over from the pace-setting Rubi Light before the second-last fence and then saw off the challenge of Toner D’Oudairies.

Ruby Walsh pushed out Rich Ricci’s second-season chaser, who was sent off the 4/5 favourite, to pull away on the run-in and score by three and a half lengths. Texas Jack was third.

“He handled the track better than I thought. I thought it might have been too small for him,” said Mullins.

“He jumped well when he needed to. I’m very happy given his home work and I think he has to improve (for the run). He was staying on the whole way today.

“Plan A was to settle him in behind and with the climb to the first fence that helped him settle. At the fence that he missed Ruby didn’t want to take the stride that was there because he didn’t want to get to the front.

“Today was the first indication that he’ll get more than two and a half miles and the first time he’s settled.

“I was finding it hard to place him. He prefers going right-handed, but I wouldn’t mind entering him to go left-handed.

“The plan with Sir Des Champs is to go to the John Durkan so that’s not the preferred option with him. I’m not sure about plans – unless he travels.”

First victory
It was a first victory in the race for Mullins, who said: “It hasn’t been the luckiest of races for us.”

Walsh said: “Trying to get two and a half on his first run back, you are always trying to keep him relaxed without letting him jump as well as he can. When I needed one at the second-last, he put the race to bed.”

Paddy Power gave Arvika Ligeonniere a quote of 10/1 for the Ryanair Chase, while Betfred trimmed him to 20/1 from 25s for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Ballinahow Lady (16/1) got the better of a protracted duel with Avondhu Lady to take the spoils in the European Breeders Fund TA Morris Memorial Mares Chase.

The two slugged it out after Dazzling Susie had led until the third-last with Ballinahow Lady finally getting on top after the jumping the final fence.

The David O’Brien-trained eight-year-old responded to John Cullen’s urgings to win by two and a quarter lengths from Backinthere who collared Avondhu Lady for second spot. O’Brien said: “I’m delighted she’s won a Grade Three. I thought she wanted further but she seems to be stronger this year.”

Questions Answered (7/4 favourite) defied a 4lb penalty for a victory at Limerick on Sunday with a narrow verdict in the Clonmel Oil Service Station Handicap Hurdle.

Eric McNamara’s smart handicap chaser again made the most of a much lower mark over the smaller obstacles as he got home by half a length from Supreme Carolina under 3lb claimer Rob Jones.