| 3.8°C Dublin

river' hunts down rivals


ONE of jumping's fallen stars rose from the ashes at Huntingdon as Nicky Henderson's Riverside Theatre staged an incredible comeback in the Betfred Peterborough Chase.

The 2014 renewal of the track's feature event will be held on a Sunday in a bid to renew popularity and again attract names of the calibre of Best Mate, One Man and Edredon Bleu to Cambridgeshire, but as a sheer spectacle this year's finish will be tough to top.

Former Ryanair and triple Grade One winner Riverside Theatre was woeful last season and looked no better for three-quarters of this race, but through the belligerence of jockey Barry Geraghty, he somehow remained in contention and triumphed from Champion Court and Captain Chris in a three-way shootout up the run-in.

Champion Court, off-colour in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, led throughout with some breathtaking leaps, while Riverside Theatre struggled under pressure.

But to the joy of the 9/4 favourite's supporters, including his most famous owner Jimmy Nesbitt, a horse who once broke his pelvis pulled the Grade Two out of the fire and beat the gallant Champion Court and the staying-on Captain Chris by half a length and a neck.

"Down the back it didn't look great, but Barry said at the second-last he knew he would win," said Henderson.



"It hasn't been easy, we had his breathing done, then he cut himself and that put him back. We've been trying everything under the sun with him, new rug, new girth, new everything!"

The William Hill King George VI Chase on St Stephen's Day, in which Riverside Theatre is engaged, is not off the radar and Nesbitt quickly remarked "I'm available". The decorated actor said: "I thought he was dead and gone, but that's extraordinary."

"We all said to each other – maybe we were camouflaging our emotions – that he doesn't owe us anything, but you still have that sickening knot inside."

Henderson, looking at Kempton in a fortnight, said: "Two and a half around here is too sharp for him now, he wants three miles. I don't know about the King George, he's in there, and I'm not going to say we wouldn't do it, but we'll see.

"He's had a hard race, but how hard? He makes it look harder than it actually is."