• Racing/
  • Theatre Takes Centre Stage

Betfred Peterborough Chase (Grade 2) 2m 4f 110y

  • (4yo+, 2m 4f 110y, Class 1, 7 runners)
  • Winner £34,170 2nd £12,822 3rd £6,420 4th £3,198 5th £1,608 6th £804
  • Going: Good to Soft, Good in places
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 4m 55.40s
  • Off time: 14:00:45
  • Last Updated: December 13 2013, 14:12 GMT

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.

  • Riverside Theatre (nearest) still has a length to find upon landing over the final fence
  • Riverside Theatre sports his 'duvet' in the parade ring 
  • Winning owner Jimmy Nesbitt contemplates future plans 

The 2014 renewal of the track's feature event will be held on a Sunday in a bid to revive its popularity and again attract names of the calibre of Best Mate, One Man and Edredon Bleu to Cambridgeshire, but as a sheer visual 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 the first 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 Boxing Day, in which Riverside Theatre is engaged, is not off the radar and Nesbitt quickly remarked "I'm available".

The actor said: "I thought he was dead and gone, but that's extraordinary. What a fantastic ride.

"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. Later on, something like three miles at Newbury is what he'd want.

"Last year in the middle part of races not a lot was happening but he's finished well today. He's not lazy, it's just possibly a lack of pace now.

"We've done an awful lot of different things with him - his wind, his ulcers. He wears 'a duvet' in the parade ring. Whether they're making any difference or not I'm not sure."

"Maybe some cheekpieces might make a different at some stage."

Geraghty said: "Things weren't looking brilliant down the back, but he closed back up on the leaders turning in and I didn't have an awful lot of ground to make up.

"I thought from the back of the second-last we should nearly win, the way he was running on. I knew he'd stay well."He struggled in the Ryanair the year he won it. He's not a horse who travels through his races as well as he should.

"You'd imagine a stiffer track, or further, or both, is going to help him."

The winner was cut to 25/1 from 33s by Sky Bet for the King George VI Chase at Kempton, while the third home Captain Chris, runner-up to Long Run in the Boxing Day feature 12 months ago, is 12/1 from 16/1 for the same event.

Sky Bet's Michael Shinners said: "Riverside Theatre has done well to win from that position but this may have been his day in receipt of weight from most of his rivals.

"Captain Chris could be the one to take from the race as he was conceding weight all round and he's likely to head back for another crack at the King George."


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