Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Riverside Theatre brings the house down at Ascot

The Nicky Henderson-trained Riverside Theatre put up a tremendous performance on his first start for 364 days when accounting for the smart Medermit by three-lengths in winning the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase for the second successive year, and racing betting tips expect him to take his chance in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next month, writes Elliot Slater.

Absent for a year having sustained a hairline fracture of his pelvis on the way to beating Gauvain by 10-lengths in the Ascot Chase twelve months ago, the gelded son of King’s Theatre had been reportedly working well in recent weeks ahead of his return to the fray and in the hours leading up to his reappearance was the subject of sustained market support that saw punters who bet on racing back him down to a strong 13/8 favourite.

Ridden by regular pilot Barry Geraghty, Riverside Theatre, (second to stable companion Long Run in last season’s King George VI Chase at Kempton), put in an impressive round of jumping and showed no signs of ring-rustiness as he moved sweetly in behind main market rival Kauto Stone (who eventually faded to finish well down the field), before taking up the running at the fifth fence from home. From then on his rivals always looked to be fighting a losing battle as Geraghty oozed confidence having matters well under control from the second last fence.

Henderson, clearly delighted with his winner, expressed complete satisfaction with the performance and hopes that the horse owned partly by television star Jimmy Nesbitt will be back for more in the Ryanair Chase, the race that had been his target last term before sustaining his injury. Generally on offer at 10/1 prior to his Ascot triumph, Riverside Theatre has divided bookmaker opinion with odds now ranging from 4/1 to 7/1 being available.

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