Henderson hails Theatre's action

Trainer full of praise for novice's jumping as his odds are cut for the Arkle Trophy

When hindsight tells you exactly the same as first impressions, seeing really can be believing. It is all too easy, of course, to get carried away with the sort of performance that won both the novice chases at Newbury yesterday. With experience, you learn to restore perspectives – to remind yourself that championship races will ask very different questions from those answered so extravagantly, at the expense of just three and five rivals respectively, by Michel Le Bon and Riverside Theatre. But then you remember Denman.

Three years ago, Denman came to this meeting and looked a Gold Cup horse in the making as he outclassed just three others. Sure enough, after returning here the following year to win the Hennessy itself, he proceeded to Cheltenham and won the Gold Cup.

Clearly, things seldom work out quite like that. This afternoon, however, Punchestowns will seek to borrow the same air of destiny when he lines up for the equivalent race, likewise against just three rivals. And, in fairness, you could not be at all certain where Michel Le Bon will discover the limits of his potential.

Paul Nicholls knows that some day he will have neither Denman – who must give weight to 20 others in his bid for a second Hennessy tomorrow – nor Kauto Star. And that is where an exquisite tension enters the early career of a horse like Michel Le Bon.

Having proved his mastery with the type, Nicholls is not going to ask this one to run before he can walk. Michel Le Bon can certainly gallop, as he showed in freewheeling clear of Pettifour – who eventually discarded his rider two out, exhausted by his pursuit – in the GPG Novice Chase over three miles. But despite being so obviously built for fences that Nicholls confined him to three starts over hurdles last season, he cannot yet be said to jump.

Not so much because he hit a couple of fences – after all, he also made several pretty flamboyant leaps under Tony McCoy – but sooner because of the caveats offered by Nicholls himself. "He has obviously got a huge engine," the champion trainer said. "But he's just been very green, schooling. I had him ready to run at Wincanton a fortnight ago, but he wasn't jumping well enough. He has schooled every day this week. Tony was brilliant out there, and will have taught him a lot. Today could be the making of his career. He's going to be some horse one day, but I'm not going to be aiming too high until I can get some more experience into him. He just wants nurturing, and it might be that we don't see the best of him until next season."

Over barely two miles, in contrast, Riverside Theatre looked a natural, jumping briskly throughout under Barry Geraghty and careering 28 lengths clear in the colours of Jimmy Nesbitt and his partners. The actor's involvement will certainly enliven this horse's journey over fences, potentially all the way to the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham – for which Totesport is already quoting him at just 12-1.

His trainer, Nicky Henderson, felt that Riverside Theatre had relished the strong gallop. "They didn't mess about out there and that's the way he would want it," he said. "He was very good in the jumping department – he was good long, he got height, and when he reached for the cross fence, he was away and out from it, and gone."

Henderson would probably settle for something half as good from Punchestowns, a top-class hurdler who has long looked a chasing type. His good form was later reiterated by Oscar Whiskey, who landed the odds in the bumper, and today the yard also introduces a smart graduate from that sphere, Bellvano, in the maiden hurdle.

The card, meanwhile, opens with a good opportunity for Mille Chief to confirm the impression he made on his British debut at Market Rasen, still cantering when brought down two out. Alan King has a fine record with juveniles and this one, imported from the same French stable as Walkon last year, is already favourite for the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

Ruby Walsh will be at Newbury today for Nicholls, having yesterday turned down Michel Le Bon in order to ride for his other main patron, Willie Mullins, over at Thurles. Nor did the novice he ended up riding instead offer him any kind of reward, Apt Approach throwing away victory when demanding a rodeo recovery over the last; Equus Maximus, meanwhile, disappointed behind Coolcashin, who confirmed himself the latest tough nut in the care of the Bowe family. It was only 11 days since he had a very hard race at Punchestown, but he responded gamely to get up by a neck and is clearly hewn from the same rock as Limestone Lad and Solerina.

Turf account: Chris McGrath

Nap

Capone (3.05 Lingfield) Has made quick progress for his new stable, much improved when foiled only by a thriving rival at Kempton last time.

Next best

Bob's Dream (1.30 Newbury) Faces a potential banana skin here in Rivaliste. However, Bob's Dream pulled clear of a well treated rival at Kelso last time.

One to watch

Brimham Boy (M Keighley) failed to get home in the testing ground at Uttoxeter yesterday, but left no doubt that he can prove better than his rating.

Where the money's going

British raiders Presvis (3-1) and Youmzain (7-2) were yesterday installed as Coral's second favourites for the Hong Kong Cup and Vase respectively at Sha Tin next month.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?