Nicholls Ponders Al Ferof Options

After failing to impress so far in his two runs over 3m this season, Al Ferof may be more likely to run in the Ryanair Chase at the Festival next month, rather than the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The 2m4f contest is wide open this year according to the racing betting where Paul Nicholls’ runner currently heads the market at 4/1 with bet365.

Al Ferof has had two attempts over 3m so far in his career. He stepped up to the distance on Boxing Day for the King George at Kempton. Despite finishing 14 lengths off the pace, he came home a respectable third behind Silviniaco Conti and Cue Card.

Next time out at Newbury he was the 5/4 favourite in the racing odds for the Denman Chase, which only consisted of five runners. He appeared to struggle in the final four furlongs of that contest in which he was no match for Harry Topper who took the prize for Kim Bailey.

With the bet365 news earlier this week that Cue Card was out of the Cheltenham Festival through injury, it may encourage more connections to aim for the Ryanair Chase this year. First Lieutenant is another horse who also has multiple entries, including that of the 2m4f chase on day three.

The Gigginstown Stud-owned runner finished second in the race behind Cue Card 12 months ago. A month later, he was successful in the Grade One Betfred Bowl Chase at Aintree during the Grand National Meeting to make up for missing out at Prestbury Park.

First Lieutenant has yet to score so far in four attempts this season. He started out at Punchestown in October where he came home third of five runners. The closest he has come to scoring was in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown in December when Bobs Worth got the better of him by just over a length.

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