Weekend Review: Riverside takes to Ascot stage

Weekend Preview/Review RSS / / 20 February 2012 / Leave a Comment

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Riverside Theatre winning the Betfair Ascot Chase.

Riverside Theatre winning the Betfair Ascot Chase.

"Riverside Theatre demonstrated that he retains all of his ability, jumping and travelling fluently..."

Timeform look back at a weekend featuring a winning return for Riverside Theatre in the Betfair Ascot Chase, a double for Donald McCain on the Ascot card and a battling victory for Giles Cross in Haydock's Grand National Trial...

Twelve months on from his last racecourse appearance, Riverside Theatre made a most impressive return to action to land back-to-back runnings of the Betfair Ascot Chase. A stress fracture of the pelvis enforced a year on the sidelines but Riverside Theatre demonstrated that he retains all of his ability, jumping and travelling fluently before being kept up to his work as the improving Medermit stuck on well.

Riverside Theatre, rated 171 by Timeform, will head to the Ryanair at the Cheltenham Festival with the strongest claims on form and, whilst his sole visit to Cheltenham resulted in a somewhat disappointing fifth in the Arkle in 2010, that effort can be put down to inexperience (just his third start over fences) and he would look the one to beat in the season's renewal, making his current price of [7.2] look incredibly tempting.

Another to enhance his Cheltenham claims was the Alan King-trained Invictus, who landed the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices' Chase. Having disappointed in the Dipper Novices' Chase at Cheltenham on his previous start, Invictus took the step up in trip in his stride to win readily.

Jumping much more fluently than at Cheltenham, Invictus quickened well to beat Bobs Worth by three lengths. However, he is essentially a speedier type than the runner-up and would not be sure to confirm the placings in the RSA on 3 lb worse terms. Invictus can currently be backed at [13.0] for the RSA, whilst Bobs Worth is available at [6.8]. A more suitable race for the winner could well be the Jewson, for which he is presently trading at [21.0].

Massini's Maguire, making just his ninth appearance over fences in a three-and-a-half-year timespan, showed himself still capable of smart form when beating Tullamore Dew by a head in the staying chase at Ascot. He may take some time to get over the exertions of Saturday's attritional contest, though he managed to highlight his Grand National claims.

Of more interest for that race, however, and currently available to back at [32.0] is the third-placed Cappa Bleu, who also filled that position in the Welsh National. The suspicion is that he may have been trained with Aintree in mind, so this was a promising effort on the whole.

Also on the Ascot card, Cholmondeley trainer Donald McCain landed a Saturday double with Super Duty and Bourne.

Super Duty is most certainly one to bear in mind for novice chasing next year, sure to be suited by further than two and a half miles in time, whilst Bourne, owned by the Timeform Betfair Racing Club, produced a very useful effort on his handicap debut with the promise of more to come given the likely strength of the form.

Moving North to Haydock, where the admirably tough and consistent Giles Cross won the Grand National Trial. Having finished as the runner-up in the Welsh National for the second consecutive year, Giles Cross was gaining his fifth career success under rules. The ten-year-old seemingly thrives on stamina sapping races of this ilk, and currently be backed at [29.0] for the Grand National, although prevailing ground conditions would likely be a factor in his participation.

Other winners of note on Haydock's card were Restless Harry, who seemed to bounce back after an unsuccessful stint novice chasing and two creditable and typically determined efforts behind Big Buck's, the Lucinda Russell-trained Brindisi Breeze (notched a fourth victory over hurdles and is available at [12.0] for the Albert Bartlett) and British debutant Une Artisite, previously trained in France, who stayed on well to deny High Samana after making a mistake at the final flight.

2010 Champion Hurdle winner Binocular very much thrust himself back into the 2012 reckoning, showing all of his old dash in winning Wincanton's Kingwell Hurdle. Currently trading at [8.8], Timeform rate him as the leading British-trained hope for the Champion Hurdle, with only the minor obstacle that is Hurricane Fly ([1.98]) to overcome.

The review of this weekend would not be complete without mentioning the terrific Black Caviar, who equalled her best Timeform rating of 135 when winning the Lightning Stakes. For more on her nineteenth consecutive victory, read Gary Crispe's review "Black Caviar equals career-best Timeform rating".

There was also some informative racing across the Irish Sea this weekend, at Gowran on Saturday and Navan on Sunday, with the likes of Rubi Light, Zaidpour and Mourad all advertising their Festival claims. For more on the Irish action, read Timeform's Irish Review: "Surprises abound at Gowran and Navan".
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Timeform ratings were in fine form at the weekend. Click HERE to see the top rated roll call, or click HERE to get race cards & ratings for today's meetings.

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