Henderson’s hopes dashed after Riverside Theatre is ruled out

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James Nesbitt’s hopes of a Cheltenham Festival winner have ended with the news his seven-year-old has been ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival.

Following his second-placed finish behind Long Run in the King George VI Chase, Riverside Theatre was installed as the 11/2 second favourite in the Ryanair Chase betting behind Poquelin.

But a hairline fracture has ruled the Nicky Henderson-trained star out of the Cheltenham Festival leaving Poquelin as the 9/2 favourite for the Ryanair Chase.

With Henderson in such great form, and with Long Run the 5/1 second favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, many ante post punters were hopeful of Riverside Theatre providing Henderson with yet another Cheltenham winner.

But Henderson will have no runner in the Ryanair Chase following the withdrawal of Riverside Theatre leaving the market wide open for punters to find some betting value.

Punters should be looking for a previous winner around Cheltenham rated between 152 and 157.

Five of the six winners went off with Cheltenham odds of less than 6/1 so punters should be looking towards the head of the market, although last years winner, Albertas Run, went off at 14/1.

With only three horses shorter than 6/1 in the ante post Ryanair Chase betting, punters can afford to look further down the betting and Weird Al, Noland and Tartak are interesting choices based on the above criteria.

All three are winners around Cheltenham and all are rated between 152 and 157, while Noland has already come in for support after his victory in the Eon Chase at Newbury in February saw his Ryanair odds cut to 20/1 from 50/1.

Weird Al and Tartak are also available at 20/1 but the edge must be with Tartak who won well at Cheltenham at the end of January.

A £25 stake on Tartak winning the Ryanair Chase would return £525. New customers can sign up here for a free £25 bet.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.