18 April 2023

Theatre Man aiming to post winning performance

18 April 2023

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.

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.

“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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