TRACKING down this Riverside Theatre is proving more difficult than locating the Loch Ness monster – Nicky Henderson’s beast now re-routed for the third time at Ascot tomorrow (1pm).
So let’s hope the seven-year-old justifies our perseverance though on all known form he should do.
Owned by former Cold Feet actor James Nesbitt, Riverside Theatre was originally down to run in the Aon Chase at Newbury last weekend, an event now switched to this afternoon.
However, the Henderson team had an 11th-hour change of mind and instead now take in tomorrow’s Ascot Chase – and probably with good reason.
The Paul Nicholls-trained Pride Of Dulcote supplies the apparent main threat to Riverside Theatre tomorrow, but it’s not hard to pick holes in his narrow beating of Punchestowns last time. And, on the ratings, our choice has at least five pounds in hand of his rivals – with Pride Of Dulcote rated nine pounds inferior.
And, after his cracking run when second to Long Run in the King George last time, it will be disappointing if Riverside Theatre cannot land this prize en route to Cheltenham.
Hopefully we will get around the even money mark and let’s just pray he both runs and does the business as it’s getting pretty tedious and boring forever writing about him!
There will, though, be nothing boring whatsoever about tomorrow’s action in general with the fine card at Ascot supported by meetings at Haydock, Uttoxeter, Wincanton and Lingfield – not to mention an Irish card at Gowran Park.
The feature at Haydock is the fiercely competitive Grand National Trial (3.20pm) – in which Mobaasher looks a decent price at around the 8-1 mark.
King Fontaine and West End Rocker look the obvious ones here as both have won their last two and both appear on the upgrade.
However, King Fontaine has been hammered 15lbs by the handicapper and even his trainer Malcolm Jefferson admits that is likely to be too harsh.
It could be a similar story with West End Rocker who trainer Alan King admitted before the start of the season was not exactly well-handicapped, yet Mobaasher runs off practically the same mark as when winning cosily at Plumpton last February.
He then bombed out in competitive fast-ground races at Cheltenham and Aintree but his last two runs over hurdles have been hugely encouraging, first slamming a decent field at Warwick in January and then chasing home new star Grands Crus when a staying on fourth in the Cleeve Hurdle.
This step up in distance on bottomless ground ought to be right up his street and while Mobaasher has been known to be a less than straight-forward character on occasion, if jockey Aidan Coleman can get him into a decent rhythm then at the 8-1 mark we could have a decent bet on our hands.
Sarde also looks potentially interesting at the foot of the handicap.
Other fancies for Haydock are the unbeaten Local Hero in the opener (1.40pm), the exciting Court In Motion from his choice of engagement (2.10pm or 2.45pm), while Henderson could have a field day at Ascot with Minella Class (1.20pm), Master Of The Hall (1.50pm) and Sprinter Sacre (4.05pm) all strong fancies in addition to Riverside Theatre.
Mille Clief is also preferred to Overturn in Wincanton’s feature – the Kingwell Hurdle (3.45pm) – while Jeremy Noseda looks the man to follow at Lingfield with Baharat (2.20pm) and Advertisement (4pm).
But Riverside Theatre is the main hope of the day. Let’s hope he’s worth the wait!