Which horse won the inaugural running of the Ryanair Chase?
Run over 2 miles 4½ furlongs on the New Course at Prestbury Park, the Ryanair Chase was established, under its registered title, the Festival Trophy, when the Cheltenham Festival was extended to four days from three in 2005. At that stage, the race was still a Grade Two contest – it was not upgraded to Grade One status until 2008 – and the inaugural running was sponsored by the Daily Telegraph, not Ryanair, and hence advertised as the Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy Chase.
In any event, the race served as a replacement for a similar, but not identical, event, known as the Cathcart Challenge Cup, which was run in various guises between 1938 and 2004, but was latterly restricted to horses in their first or second season over fences. The inaugural running of the race was won by Thisthatandtother, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Ruby Walsh, but, strictly speaking, because Ryanair did not take over sponsorship the following year, the inaugural running of the Ryanair Chase was the 2006 winner Fondmort, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Mick Fitzgerald.