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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
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

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London