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Oscar Rock to regain winning thread in Newbury’s Challow Hurdle

Channel 4 is covering the Mandarin Chase and the Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle from Newbury’s card on Saturday. The hurdle race has attracted a field of six useful hurdlers including Malcolm Jefferson’s Oscar Rock.

The five-year-old was a very smart bumper horse last season and bolted up on his hurdling bow in November at Wetherby. He was made odds-on favourite to follow up but could not get past Ballyalton, eventually going down by half a length.

The winner has since gone on to win again and looks bound for the Cheltenham festival so Oscar Rock is entitled to go well here. The likely danger is Timesremembered who beat Potters Cross in the Persian War here in October.

He was also defeated on his most recent start, finding Creepy just too strong and losing by a length. The winner is a tough horse to get past and also comes into calculations in a tricky race.

Nicky Henderson’s Captain Cutter will need to jump a lot more fluently than when landing the odds at Market Rasen if he is to win in this company. He will have the assistance of Tony McCoy and is preferred to Kaki De La Pree and Shantou Magic.

It is hard to be confident about the outcome of the Mandarin Chase at 1.15 with some erratic performers on show. The top weight Howard’s Legacy had pulled up three times before finishing second last time out whilst Faultless Feelings and Shaking Hands both failed to complete on their most recent outings.

Denali Highway looked a bit slow when sticking on to take second place behind No Planning at Wetherby but has an obvious chance for Andy Thornton. He runs off just a 1lb higher mark here and has to be the selection in a modest renewal.

The best bet on the card may be Black River in the 2.50. He was travelling easily when falling last time in a handicap chase and could be well handicapped for his hurdling bow in this country.

Selections: 12.15 Ronaldinho, 12.45 Ballylifen, 1.15 Denali Highway, 1.45 Oscar Rock, 2.15 Vukovar, 2.50 Black River, 3.25 Stand To Reason