Riverside Theatre performance worth a role in Ryanair Chase

William Hill

Tagged under: 2.40 Ryanair Chase 2m 5f ( Festival Trophy Chase ) Grade 1

Riverside Theatre won the Betfair Ascot Chase on Saturday to give trainer Nicky Henderson a valuable Cheltenham Festival pointer and could now go for the two-mile-five-furlong Ryanair Chase next month.

Henderson’s charge was beaten in the two-mile Arkle Trophy at last year’s Cheltenham Festival but impressed over the longer trip at Ascot, prompting the following response from jockey Barry Geraghty: "He quickened well. He ran in the Arkle last year but that was just a bit sharp for him and this trip is ideal for him.''

"He stays all day and it's much slower ground than it was at Kempton. I suppose the Ryanair could be a race for him but it's really up to Nicky," Geraghty added.

Riverside Theatre had finished runner-up to Long Run in the King George Chase over three miles at Kempton last month and gave that form a boost when beating Gauvain by ten lengths over two-and-three-quarter-miles in soft ground at Ascot on Saturday.

Bookmakers reacted by cutting the seven-year-olds odds for the Ryanair Chase from 10/1 to 7/1, although connections had been considering missing the 2011 Cheltenham Festival with Riverside Theatre in favour of running at Aintree.

However plans may be set to change as Henderson said: "We had a bit of a board meeting this afternoon because I didn't think that was his ground. He's much better on better ground, but we hadn't been thinking of going to Cheltenham and we were going to wait for Aintree.

"Having said that, I'm not going to rule anything in or out. I'm going to have to sit down with the owners at a later date. He's learnt a lot in the jumping department and it's a good compliment to Long Run."

Saturday’s race was marred by the tragic loss of Pride of Dulce who fell at the eighth fence, his trainer Paul Nicholls said: "I believe he broke one of his hind legs and had to be put down. It's a real sickener.''

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