by Andrew Gibson
15:00 Ascot Sat 18 February
Betfair Ascot Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1) (5YO plus)
Good to Soft
Winner £84,405 - 8 ran
Kauto Stone became yet another well-fancied Paul Nicholls runner to drop out tamely after appearing to travel well for the first half of the race. His disappointing finish left the way clear for RIVERSIDE THEATRE to maintain his advantage over Medermit all the way up the home straight. The winner had quite a tough race in succeeding here and did nothing to dispel pre-race concerns regarding his ability to perform up to this sort of level next time out in the Ryanair Chase. Riverside Theatre now has a five from five record on his seasonal debut; however, his figures when racing within about thirty days of a previous run make far less attractive reading; furthermore, he ran poorly on his only previous chase at Cheltenham and his best chase form has all been achieved when racing on right handed tracks. Despite the fact that he is clearly one of very few plausible winners of the Ryanair Chase the combination of his skinny price with those minor negatives are enough for me to want to look elsewhere at the moment.
Of the rest, Little Josh ran poorly and his connections may well be wishing they had kept him fresh for the festival; nonetheless, he has run well after a shortish break before and may well run above his price when racing back at his favourite track in the Ryanair Chase. Gauvain showed once again that he has something to find to compete at Grade One level whilst Medermit, who is still trading at a double-figure price for the Ryanair Chase, ran another good race in defeat, has high-class Cheltenham form to his name and has every chance of finishing in the first three or four in March.