26 March 2024

Hurdles back in the script for Theatre Man

26 March 2024

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.

“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.

“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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