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Ryanair Chase rather than Gold Cup for Whittington star Saint Calvados

Last year's Ryanair Chase runner-up Saint Calvados will bid to go one place better at Cheltenham on Thursday week, rather than running in the Gold Cup a day later.

The decision was taken after a video conference involving owner Andrew Brooks, trainer Harry Whittington, jockey Gavin Sheehan and others.

The eight-year-old was beaten just a neck by Min in the 2m4½f event 12 months ago but has been stepped up to 3m this season, finishing fourth in the King George VI Chase at Kempton then unseating Sheehan six fences from home in the Cotswold Chase at Sandown.

"Ultimately it's Andrew's decision," Whittington said. "But we had a Zoom call on Friday night between the whole team and we've come to the decision he will run in the Ryanair.

"We didn't find out if he truly stays in the Cotswold Chase and he's an 8-1 or 9-1 chance for the Ryanair. He won't even be confirmed for the Gold Cup."

Whittington hopes for another big run from Saint Calvados, who is a best-priced 10-1 with William Hill for his rematch with Min.

"He ran an unbelievable race in the Ryanair last year and he's got to have a solid chance," the trainer said. "The form of that race from last year is strong, with the third A Plus Tard being a short price for the Gold Cup.

"Min is a very worthy favourite but we served it up to him last year and there's no reason we can't do the same thing if we turn up in the same form."

Stablemate Rouge Vif is earmarked for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at a meeting where Simply The Betts gave the yard a breakthrough victory in the Plate last year.

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