Theatre claims a thriller
Riverside Theatre dug deep for an inspired Barry Geraghty to claim a thrilling renewal of the Betfred Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon.
Nicky Henderson's nine-year-old completed a hat-trick of Grade One victories in the Ryanair Chase at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival but failed to rediscover that level of form in three starts last season.
Sent off a 9-4 favourite for this return to action, Riverside Theatre's jumping was unconvincing in the early stages and Geraghty was getting lower in the saddle with a full circuit to run.
The market leader looked in real trouble before leading the back straight, with Geraghty having to resort to the whip, but his mount did respond to pressure.
Champion Court put up a fantastic display of jumping front and still held a narrow lead at the last, but the galvanised Riverside Theatre came through to claim him on the far side, getting up by half a length.
Captain Chris travelled powerfully for a long way on his seasonal debut and was far from disgraced in finishing a close-up third.
Paddy Power cut Riverside Theatre to 14-1 from 25-1 for the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, while he is a 10-1 shot to regain his Ryanair crown at Cheltenham in March.
Henderson said: "Down the back it didn't look great but Barry said at the second-last he knew he would win.
"It hasn't been easy with this horse, and we've been trying everything under the sun with him.
"That's 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 how he is.
"Later on, something like three miles at Newbury is what he'd want."