Spotlight on Theatreworld

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The Independent Online
While the Champion Hurdler, Collier Bay, and his predecessor, Alderbrook, pace their boxes, waiting for their first sight of a racecourse this season, one aspirant to that title, Theatreworld, was staking his claim with an impressive victory at Leopardstown yesterday. The Aidan O'Brien-trained gelding was bouncing back from a defeat in the Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham and his win in yesterday's December Festival Hurdle paid a compliment to his Cotswold conquerors, Large Action and Bimsey.

"We used the wrong tactics at Cheltenham, where Theatreworld never was happy on the faster ground anyway," O'Brien said. "He likes to bowl along in front and Charlie did exactly as I wanted.

"We have tied his [Theatreworld's] tongue down since the Bula Hurdle and I made no secret of the fact he was working much better with it since. We will probably keep him for the AIG Europe Champion Hurdle rather than running him in the Ladbroke here on Saturday week."

Theatreworld is now 33-1, with Ladbrokes, for the Champion Hurdle.

O'Brien reported that Urubande is his likely main Ladbroke hope, the top weight having recovered from the marathon journey that preceded his Newbury defeat by Zabadi.

Alderbrook and Collier Bay, meanwhile, are entries for Saturday's Pertemps Hurdle, reorganised for Sandown to replace Kempton's Christmas Hurdle. The track was just about raceable yesterday, but will need to be appreciably softer if either of the hurdling stars is to make an appearance.

With the abandonment of today's cards at Taunton and Warwick, and the meeting at Fontwell in grave doubt, Catterick provides the only racing on turf. Cheltenham's New Year's Day card is subject to a 10am inspection today, while prospects for Uttoxeter, Leicester and Windsor the same day look bleak. Tomorrow's Exeter card has already gone west.

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