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Riverside Theatre among 32 entries for Punchestown Gold Cup

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Barry Geraghty celebrates victory on Riverside Theatre after winning the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham

Barry Geraghty celebrates victory on Riverside Theatre after winning the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham

Barry Geraghty celebrates victory on Riverside Theatre after winning the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham

RYANAIR Chase winner Riverside Theatre is one of the star names among 32 entries for thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup.

The eight-year-old was given a magnificent ride by Barry Geraghty when emerging victorious in a thrilling finish at Cheltenham last month and could now step up in distance for his owner, actor Jimmy Nesbitt.

Trainer Nicky Henderson also has Burton Port and Quantitativeeasing engaged, while also among 10 British contenders are Sir Alex Ferguson's What A Friend, Captain Chris and last year's Grand National hero Ballabriggs.

Leading owners Gigginstown House Stud have a predictably strong hand, with Quito De La Roque and RSA Chase runner-up First Lieutenant in the mix.

Gigginstown racing manager, Eddie O'Leary, said: "I'm not saying he definitely will, but First Lieutenant could go for the Gold Cup.

"It was a fantastic run at Cheltenham and we've been very happy with him. He was beaten by a very good horse that day (Bobs Worth) and perhaps the ground was a bit too soft for him over there.

"All being well Quito will go for the Gold Cup and he's very, very well.

"We were all very disappointed the last day when he got beaten but he was sick afterwards. Hopefully we'll see him back to his best again at Punchestown."

Noel Meade intends to step Queen Mother Champion Chase fifth Realt Dubh significantly up in distance.

He said: "I don't know if the trip will bring out improvement because last year when he got beat in the Drinmore Novice Chase I worried that he didn't get two and a half miles, but then he won the Powers Gold Cup over two and a half.

"I just think two miles is too short for him and there is no two and a half mile race at Punchestown so the three mile and one furlong race is the one he will go for.

"That's what the plan is at the moment anyway. But if it was really heavy ground he would probably go for the Champion Chase over two miles.

"It was his first run for a long time in the Queen Mother and he ran OK."