Monday, November 7, 2011

Theatre a likely King George 'no show'

The race against time to have last season's King George VI Chase runner-up Riverside Theatre fit to attempt to go one better at Kempton Park on Boxing Day looks likely to be lost, according to the gelding's trainer Nicky Henderson, who has suggested that the Grade 1 three-mile showpiece event will come a few weeks to soon for the talented gelding, writes Elliot Slater.

An excellent 12-length second to the outstanding Long Run in last season's renewal, Riverside Theatre had been as short as 6/1 in the ante-post Kempton betting, but Henderson's comments have prompted a number of layers to now remove him entirely from the betting. Clearly a very talented performer, the Jimmy Nesbitt-owned seven-year-old followed his Kempton effort with a stunning 10-length defeat of the smart Gauvain in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Ascot in February, a race he won with consummate ease and which prompted many observers to wonder if he might be the banker of the meeting at the Cheltenham Festival in the Ryanair Chase.

Unfortunately for his supporters, the son of King's Theatre sustained a hairline fracture of his pelvis whilst in training for Cheltenham and was on the easy list until returning to training recently. Despite doing everything asked of him so far it appears that time has just about run out to prepare Henderson's charge at his peak for the top-class Kempton highlight and he has strongly suggested that connections are content to wait and have him spot on to go for the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase at the festival in March and make up for the disappointment of not making the line-up last season, rather than risk him at Kempton when possibly below peak fitness.

Henderson's talented performer is currently a general 8/1 joint-second favourite in the ante-post list for the race with former champion chaser Master Minded, in a market headed by last term's Cheltenham Jewson Novices' Chase winner Noble Prince at 7/1.

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