Nicky Henderson’s classy chaser, Riverside Theatre, could well have his first outing of the current campaign in the Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, connections being fully aware that last year’s Cheltenham Festival winner goes particularly well first time out, writes Elliot Slater.
The gelded son of King’s Theatre has won on his seasonal bow in each of his last three racing seasons and put up a tremendous display after a year off the track through injury when returning vigorously at Ascot in February to slam the smart Medermit by three lengths in the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase.
The talented eight-year-old then carried on the good work as he produced a barnstorming performance at Cheltenham in March, battling on with tremendous tenacity to beat the course specialist, Alberta’s Run by half a length in one of the best finishes to the whole Festival meeting.
If Henderson’s charge can remain injury free in the run up to Christmas there is every chance that he could go very well in his second bid for the feature Sunbury prize, having found only Long Run too good for him when a fine second in the belated January 2011 running of the showcase three-mile contest.
The Betfair chase odds certainly have plenty of respect for the horse part-owned by popular actor, Jimmy Nesbitt, and offer no bigger than 9/1 about him adding the Kempton prize to his big win at Cheltenham last season. His stable companion Long Run is currently the 4/1 market leader in the King George VI chase betting.