Three-mile Punchestown test for Theatreworld
THE Champion Hurdle runner-up, Theatreworld, will be tried over three miles for the first time in Thursday's IAWS Centenary Year Champion Stayers Hurdle on the final day of the three day Punchestown festival which starts tomorrow.
Second at Cheltenham and also in the AIG Irish Champion Hurdle, Theatreworld subsequently disappointed at Fairyhouse but trainer Aidan O'Brien is using Thursday's race as a test run for where the gelding should be aimed at next season.
"I think it's better to find out now if he is a three mile stayers horse for next year rather than letting him become a little more sluggish through the summer break," O'Brien said.
Although always running well, Theatreworld has sometimes looked a little short of pace in the top two mile championship races but he will have to be at his best on Thursday to cope with David Nicholoson's impressive Aintree winner Escartefigue.
It promises to be just one of a series of clashes between O'Brien and Nicholson through the week. Nicholson's strong team includes the likes of Midnight Legend (Country Pride Champion Novices Hurdle), Circus Star (Murphys Champion Four Year Old Hurdle), Shankar (Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle) and also Arctic Camper, who goes in the Doncaster Bloodstock Sales Champion Flat Race.
However, O'Brien has confirmed he will run both Promalee and Cloone Bridge in the £20,000 event.
One English trainer who will be having his first runners in Ireland is Bob Buckler who plans to run the trio of Miss Diskin, Ground Nut and Ground Master tomorrow.
A notable absentee from Punchestown will be the Champion Novices entry, Humbel. He's going back to the flat and will run in something like the Savel Beg Stakes," said trainer Dermot Weld.
The ground at Punchestown is leaning towards good rather than good to firm, according to course manager Charlie Murless.
"I'm very happy with it. It really is mostly good ground now. There are areas on the firm side such as a section of the hurdle course going away from the straight but we can target them. We will continue to water the track until Monday night and then every evening during the festival," Murless said yesterday.