Theatre team heap praise on Geraghty after Ryanair victory
Barry Geraghty took the plaudits with a brilliant effort to get Riverside Theatre up in the final strides for a dramatic success in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.
The in-form jockey galvanised the Nicky Henderson-trained eight-year-old, part-owned by actor Jimmy Nesbitt, to deny Albertas Run a third successive win in the race.
The 7-2 favourite snatched the spoils by half a length from Albertas Run (10-1) with Medermit (8-1) another half a length away in third.
Geraghty said: "It was hard work. I never travelled and he missed a good few (fences) but he's game.
"I threw him at the last four fences and he kept coming up. I was beaten everywhere.
"I was a bit tight for room because he wasn't travelling but every time I dug into him he found more.
"I was trying to keep count (of the whip) and I hope I'm all right. He's very classy.
"It's unbelievable training to bring him back from a year off to win two Grade Ones."
Nesbitt said: "I just can't believe the ride that Barry gave him and Nicky has done such an incredible job to bring him back like he has.
"The training performance at Ascot was extraordinary, but to have him in that nick today - to have that courage and battle like he did is incredible."
Henderson said: "In fairness that was some great ride.
"I don't think either of us was enjoying that a lot and I don't think Barry was either as it didn't look very likely all the way.
"They were always travelling a gear higher than he wanted to be in.
"That was some ride to get him home."
Henderson added: "You'd have to say he wants a step up in trip now.
"They went a hell of a gallop the whole way, it was too frenetic for our horse. I was stood with Jimmy watching the race and we thought he was going nowhere, it was all doom and gloom but you'd have to say Barry gave him an unbelievable ride.
"Although he's a very good looking horse he's extremely brave as well.
"We'll see if we run him again this season.
"You'd have to say he'd be a horse for the King George next season, he's run well in it before."
Jonjo O'Neill said of Albertas Run: "He's run a cracking race and we're thrilled to bits with him.
"The ground was maybe a bit on the dead side and AP (McCoy) said that there was one fence on the top of the hill that he didn't really fly, he didn't miss it but just didn't make up as much ground as he might have done.
"He's a great horse to train and I wish I had a yard full of horses like him.
"I thought we were in with a chance and Riverside Theatre was on and off the bridle but Barry gave his horse a great ride, as did AP, but he stayed on.
"He'll probably go to Aintree if he's OK."
Noel Williams, Alan King's assistant trainer, said of Medermit: "He's run a great race. We'd been thinking about this or the Gold Cup, he stays this (two-mile-five) trip well and I think he'll be worth running over three miles now.
"He's so unlucky not to win here but he's always there or thereabouts."