Chirico to test theory at Newbury


Confession time. I subscribe to a theory that tells me to oppose horses changing code to avail of a ‘nice handicap mark’ and will be basing Saturday’s first selection on this.

Often horses that have been running well over hurdles/fences change tack and attempt to avail of a lower mark in the other discipline.

It regularly fails to pay off, simply because these are entirely different disciplines, demanding vastly different techniques from the horses and so form in one doesn’t readily translate across to the other (of course, it can work out too!).

From a punter’s perspective, we can often grab value when a horse changing code is over bet to do so successfully by opposing them. That is the case in the four-runner Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (13:15) at Newbury on Saturday.

Remiluc returns to chasing, seemingly 12lb ‘well in’ based on his recent efforts over timber. Around 13 months ago he made his debut over fences over the C&D at Newbury and finished about a dozen lengths third of 11 runners, making mistakes on his way around.

A month later he ran in a Grade 3 novice at Kempton on Boxing Day and was pulled up, having been sketchy in his jumping. He certainly retains the potential to do much better in this sphere, but he’ll have to prove it and so is opposable as the 7/4 favourite now.

Any of the trio that face him could be good enough to have his measure but Chirico Vallis get the nod at what appears a fair price of 9/4.

Neil Mulholland’s runner has looked good in winning over fences at Southwell and Bangor this season already. Admittedly, he fell in between at Ludlow but a novice is allowed to do that and, crucially, he appeared to have learned from it next time in winning well.

On the strength of those wins, the belief he’ll improve again, and the fact that Remiluc essentially must prove his handicap mark is favourable, Noel Fehily’s mount gets the verdict.

Later on the card Wuff looks worth a bet in the Mandarin Handicap Chase (14:25) for trainer Tom George and Adrian Heskin.

He’s rated just 3lb higher than when winning at Ffos Las in March, has a decent record from three previous starts at Newbury and is proven in the sort of testing ground that he’ll get now.

Wuff’s reappearance at Bangor last month emphasised his well-being when he chased home the progressive Forest Des Aigles, who was officially 5lb ‘well in’ that afternoon so at 6/1 he looks booked for a big effort here on his second start back.

The Challow Novices’ Hurdle (15:00) is the final Grade 1 contest of 2017 and it might just be worth siding with the mare Dame Rose to oblige at 3/1 for trainer Richard Hobson and in-form Harry Skelton.

A winner on debut over timber, she was then beaten at Newbury by Cap Soleil, having seemingly expended too much energy on the front end. With a little more restraint, she convincingly reversed that form next time and, if she settles, could be open to plenty more progress over this longer trip in what doesn’t exactly stand out as a strong contest for the grade.

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