Jamie Snowden is hoping his long-term plan bears fruit when Monbeg Theatre with bet365) tackles the £40,000 bet365 Hurdle (3.15pm, 16 entries) at Wetherby this Saturday.
The three-mile contest is often the starting point for some of the country’s leading staying hurdlers and this year’s entries include Stayers’ Hurdle third Wholestone (Nigel Twiston-Davies) and Clyne (Evan Williams), who filled the same position in the Aintree Hurdle in April.
Another leading contender is dual scorer Old Guard (Paul Nicholls), who is part-owned by ITV’s Jeremy Kyle. Old Guard returned to action when runner-up in Listed company at Kempton over the much shorter distance of two miles.
Monbeg Theatre has been in Wetherby’s winner’s enclosure already this season, after extending his winning streak to three with a neck success in the Bet365 Charlie Hall Meeting 2nd & 3rd November Handicap Hurdle.
The nine-year-old’s run of success began in a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham in April and continued with another dominant display from the front in a valuable handicap hurdle at Haydock Park the following month.
Promising conditional jockey Page Fuller has ridden Monbeg Theatre in his last three starts, but is currently sidelined with an injury.
Lambourn-based Snowden reported: “Monbeg Theatre is in great form with himself and this has been the plan ever since he won that nice race at Haydock.
“We said we would start him off at Wetherby’s opening meeting and if he won there, then we would take our chance in the bet365 Hurdle.
“From a handicap mark in the 140s, he would have been carrying a decent amount of weight in good handicaps so we feel it is worth having a go at one of these graded races.
“Hopefully, he can go close on Saturday and make the options for us going forward a lot easier.
“The one disappointing factor is that Page Fuller has broken her collarbone and won’t be able to ride. Gavin Sheehan rides a lot for us and he is the obvious choice to step in.”
Definitly Red, who is trained by Brian Ellison in Norton, North Yorkshire, is entered in both the bet365 Hurdle and the feature chase, the £100,000 bet365 Charlie Hall Chase.
The nine-year-old, who finished third in the 2017 bet365 Charlie Hall Chase, was the impressive winner of the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January, finished sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and then unseated his regular rider Danny Cook in the Bowl Chase at Aintree in April – his most recent start.