Theatre set for Kempton encore
Our gallops reporter has been to Lambourn to see Nicky Henderson's main Christmas runners put through their paces.
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Nicky Henderson has been busy working his team over the past two days, with Barry Geraghty on hand to put some of the biggest names through their paces ahead of festive assignments.
RIVERSIDE THEATRE looks like being the jockey's chosen mount in the King George VI Chase and he appeared in good heart, stretching out in some half-speed work ahead of the Boxing Day feature.
Last season's Ryanair Chase hero always produces the goods first time back and, having been placed in the Kempton contest before, looks one of the few threats to stablemate LONG RUN at this stage.
The latter is guaranteed to get the trip and, furthermore, will not be inconvenienced by testing conditions at the Sunbury venue.
Sam Waley-Cohen has ridden the 2010 King George hero in some of his preparatory work and the gelding is giving out signals that will surely help make him a warm favourite to win back the crown he surrendered to the now-retired Kauto Star 12 months ago.
DARLAN is looking particularly lean and mean in his work and he caught the eye in a couple of swinging canters on Friday.
Having had to bypass the Greatwood Hurdle owing to unsuitable going, the JP McManus-owned gelding is being redirected towards the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
He has worked well to suggest he will soon make up for lost time on his belated seasonal reappearance.
GRANDOUET found the going softer than ideal when finishing runner-up to Zarkander in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham and seems to have taken those exertions in his stride.
It would be no surprise to see him shorten the gap, or more likely reverse the placings, should the pair meet again before the Champion Hurdle.
FORGOTTEN VOICE is a name to conjure with on better ground. The former Hunt Cup winner is all dressed up with nowhere to go as running him in testing conditions would be a waste of time.