Tag Archive for: Theatre Man

Hurdles back in the script for Theatre Man

Richard Bandey’s Theatre Man may revert to hurdles for the tail end of the season as he looks to preserve his novice chaser status for next term after Cheltenham Festival disappointment.

The eight-year-old was the 100-30 favourite for the Plate having acquitted himself well at the track when finishing second to Ginny’s Destiny in the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase on Trials day.

Prior to that, he was placed in a pair of near three-mile chases at Newbury, meaning his debut campaign over fences had progressed nicely as he headed into the Festival.

Under Harry Cobden, his Plate bid ended prematurely, however, when after a standing start he made a jumping error at the third obstacle and parted ways with his rider.

Thankfully, neither horse nor rider were any the worse and Theatre Man may now switch back to hurdling to maintain his ranking as a novice over fences for next season.

Theatre Man at Newbury previously
Theatre Man at Newbury previously (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“I think it was the owners and the trainer that were left licking their wounds more than the horse!” said Bandey.

“He seems grand after the race, he’s back in exercise and going well.

“The plan is that we’re thinking we want to keep him as a novice for next season over fences, so we might well revert back to hurdles for another run this season.

“We’ll look at handicaps at Aintree at two and a half and three (miles) possibly, and we’re looking at other options at Sandown or Ayr at the end of the season.”

When reflecting on Cheltenham, Bandey added: “He’s not the most straightforward horse and he wouldn’t be overly keen on being too crowded, so I was slightly concerned about the standing start.

Theatre Man and Harry Bannister earlier in the term
Theatre Man and Harry Bannister earlier in the term (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“He just didn’t jump forward at the tape and got quite far back and then probably just lost sight of the third fence, it’s one of those things in big handicaps.”

Ginny’s Destiny went on to run a fine race at the Festival when second in the Grade One Turners Novices’ Chase, a performance that boosts Theatre Man’s form and bodes well for a return to chasing next term.

“It’s another frank of his form, that was a great run at Cheltenham again,” said Bandey.

“We’re still nicely handicapped and hopefully if we go novice chasing next year, we can progress in that sphere and have some nice options for him.

“We can look at the same races again and more, fingers crossed we’ve still got a nice horse to look forward to.”

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Theatre Man thrust into Festival spotlight

Theatre Man has Cheltenham Festival handicaps on his agenda, having picked up a silver medal at Prestbury Park on Trials day.

Richard Bandey’s eight-year-old won two of his four starts over hurdles last term and, although yet to open his account over fences, has not been too far out of the picture in all three novice chase starts.

Despite blundering four from home, he finished less than three lengths adrift of Paul Nicholls’ Turners hope Ginny’s Destiny at Cheltenham on Trials day, a performance that suggests he is more than worth his place at the Festival.

Theatre Man in action at Newbury
Theatre Man in action at Newbury (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Connections now need to choose between the Trustatrader Plate over the same track and trip as that most recent outing, or step up to three miles for a shot at the Ultima Handicap Chase, with ground conditions nearer the time set to be a crucial determining factor in the decision.

“We were very pleased with the run at Cheltenham,” said Bandey.

“He finished very strongly, but we’ve always felt he is a strong-finishing two-and-a-half-mile horse rather than a definite three-miler.

“I think after his mistake four out (at Cheltenham), he just got swallowed up a bit and didn’t go through the gaps as fast as Harry (Bannister, jockey) would have liked, but he ran on strongly and we were delighted with the run.”

He went on: “All roads will lead back to Cheltenham now, all being well, with both the Plate and the Ultima being his options – and determined by the ground and shape of the races really.

“If the ground was soft, I think we would see a better horse – I think softer ground helps him rather than what we saw on Trials day, when it was good to soft. If it was similar ground or drier than it was on Trials day, then we might consider the three-mile race.

“It’s a lovely problem to have and Mr Syder and Mr Burke (owners), Harry and I will all put our heads together and work out a plan. We’re a small yard and he’s definitely the flagbearer for us this year, so we’re very lucky to have him.”

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Theatre Man aiming to post winning performance

Richard Bandey’s Theatre Man could try to sign off for the campaign on a high note in the Citipost Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, provided the ground is not too fast.

The bay has not been out of the first two all term, starting off with a second-placed run behind subsequent Grade One winner Hermes Allen at Stratford.

He then won a Hereford novice by 12 lengths in November before being beaten just half a length in a similar contest at Doncaster at the end of the year.

After a break he was back in action at Kempton in March and once again demonstrated his promise with an impressive success, defeating Nicky Henderson’s Issuing Authority by five and a half lengths under a penalty.

Aintree had been considered but was ultimately vetoed and Bandey is hopeful conditions will allow him to get a final run into the gelding before the season ends and connections begin to weigh up a graduation to chasing.

“He’s in really good form, he’s been tipping away at home and this is his last opportunity,” he said.

“We’d planned to go to Aintree but those races just looked a bit more competitive than we’d have liked, so we missed that and went to Cheltenham.

“I think it could be good ground and his best form is on soft. I don’t think it will be too much of an inconvenience for him but we’ll take a view on the day.

“He looks a nice horse, doesn’t he? It’d be nice to try that out and have one last run for the season before putting him away but if we don’t run, we’ll look forward to trying him over fences next season.

“He is seven so there’s no need to hang about too much with him, we’ll look forward to that if that’s the route we take.”

Henderson’s The Carpenter is a leading contender after an 11-length success last time out at Newbury, with Olly Murphy’s Chasing Fire looking to return to the winners’ enclosure after a 12th-placed run in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last time out.

The Carpenter ridden by Nico de Boinville
The Carpenter ridden by Nico de Boinville (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Bandey also has an entry in the Weatherite Air Conditioning Handicap Chase as the veteran campaigner Mister Malarky is set to run.

The chestnut runs off joint top weight of 12st and was second in this contest last year off the same mark.

Bandey said: “Dear old Mister Malarky, I just wish he was off 135 and not 145!

“He’s been consistent and run some good races for us, the ground will suit him and he’ll just take his chance.

“I think he prefers smaller fields and an opportunity to dominate, so it’s probably not the ideal race but it’s a last opportunity for him for this season.

Richard Bandey's Mister Malarky
Richard Bandey’s Mister Malarky (Julian Herbert/PA)

“He’s in great form, he’s in the best form he’s been in all season and it’s just got to fall right for him.”

Richard Hobson’s Lord Du Mesnil is the other runner shouldering 12st, though conditional rider Lilly Pinchin takes 3lb from that with her claim.

Elsewhere on the card is the Kingston Stud Handicap Hurdle, with Homme Public the runner for the Oliver Greenall amd Josh Guerriero stable.

A six-year-old last seen finishing second in a class two Bangor handicap, the gelding’s mark has risen incrementally throughout the season and as a result only one rival will carry more weight at Cheltenham.

Greenall said: “It could be quite tough for him, he’s gone up quite a lot for running in some lower grade races and he’s probably carrying enough weight.

“He is improving though and I think he’ll like the ground, that is it important to him.”

Henderson’s Bold Endeavour is the top weight, a versatile sort who has mixed hurdles with fences this season and was fifth in the Coral Cup when last seen.

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Whistleinthedark shines at Kempton for Laura Morgan

Laura Morgan’s Whistleinthedark continued a good run of form when winning the Virgin Bet Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase at Kempton under 3lb-claimer Patrick Cowley.

The eight-year-old was second on his seasonal debut and has won twice since, most recently taking a Wetherby novice by nine lengths before stepping back to two miles and two furlongs.

A 7-2 shot, he pursued the leader in the early stages, eventually taking up the lead himself to triumph by a length and a half from Paul Nicholls’ Cap Du Mathan.

Morgan said: “I’m absolutely delighted, when I saw Harry Cobden (second) coming up on the outside there I was a bit worried, but I think he’s done that really well. It was obviously a drop back in trip today and up in grade, I thought he did that well.

“Today wasn’t the target, I thought that we might go to Aintree with him but I’m not too sure yet. I thought we’d go up in grade today and see what he does and he’s done that nicely.”

Suzy Smith’s Animal was then a decisive winner of the Virgin Bet Handicap Chase under Charlie Hammond, justifying his status as 100-30 joint-favourite when winning by seven lengths.

Hammond said: “He’s a lot easier to ride in his races, he’s relaxed more. Normally we drop him out, today we were able to ride him handy. We went a bit wider for fresher ground but he’s jumped and travelled like the best horse in the race and he’s done it nicely.

“He quite often hits a flat spot in his race and then stays on and hits the line really well. The race has never quite been there for him but it was nice to get a race today, we were a bit concerned about the ground and the quick turnaround, but it’s worked out really nicely.”

Richard Bandey was pleased with the performance of the promising Theatre Man, a five-and-a-half-length winner of the Virgin Bet Fives Novices’ Hurdle.

Having run well in three hurdle starts, the seven-year-old was an 11-4 chance and made all of the running before comfortably pulling clear to cross the line five and a half lengths ahead of Nicky Henderson’s Issuing Authority.

Richard Bandey's Theatre Man
Richard Bandey’s Theatre Man (David Davies/PA)

The trainer said: “He’s done that really nicely today. He hasn’t run since December, so that’s the first opportunity that’s come about due to the ground and a few other bits and pieces. He’s done it really nicely, unchallenged, from the front, it seemed to suit the horse.

“He was carrying a 7lb penalty and Mr Henderson’s horse could have put up a serious challenge and it could have been a close affair. He’s it done it that nicely, I’m pleasantly surprised.

“I’d thought about a run round Cheltenham in April but we might be looking at Aintree now, a graded race, you might have to think about something like that.

“Next season he’ll go chasing. I love the way he jumps a hurdle but I think if he does it like that over a fence, he’ll be very impressive.”

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