Rehearsal Chase Preview: Irish raider looks a Fine bet

The Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle is one of several big betting races on Saturday
The Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle is one of several big betting races on Saturday

Timeform's Adam Brookes previews the Rehearsal Handicap Chase at Newcastle on Saturday and recommends a bet.

"...a more attractive proposition is Fine Rightly who also ticks plenty of boxes and is currently available at bigger odds."

With most of the focus regarding racing at Newcastle having been on its all-weather track over the past few years, those who work for the course will be keen to remind us that high-quality jumps racing still takes place there. They get another big chance on Saturday when Newcastle stages its big National Hunt card of the season, headed by the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle. The Fighting Fifth is a very hard race to get a handle on from a punting point of view as things stand, however, and a more attractive proposition is the listed Rehearsal Handicap Chase that closes the meeting.

Three-time Rehearsal Chase winner Hey Big Spender is now enjoying a well-earned retirement, which means we're going to have to put some thought into who's going to win this year's renewal. The same was true 12 months ago when Wakanda won, and that gelding isn't out of things again despite having finished pulled up, or out with the washing, on his last three starts. He's now only 1 lb higher than when winning a listed handicap at Ascot last December.

It's clear to see why Definitly Red is ante-post favourite, however, especially with Vyta du Roc going for the Hennessy instead and the Jonjo/J.P. pair of Minella Rocco and Shutthefrontdoor not certain runners at the time of writing. The granite-tough Definitly Red spent the bulk of last season over fences, winning at Catterick and Ayr (a listed event on his final outing), and was pointed straight at this race after making a successful reappearance in a handicap hurdle at Carlisle four weeks ago.

Definitly Red's connections also look set to run Five In A Row who made further progress when registering a second chase win over two and a half miles at this track last February. He's finished runner-up on his last two starts, including when behind Buachaill Alainn in a 29-furlong handicap at Sedgefield on his return, but he doesn't look as interesting as his year-younger stable companion.

Fine Rightly will definitely be a player if taking his chance as he finished third in the Grade 1 Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown last February before landing his second and third chase wins of 2015/16 at Down Royal and Cork (a Grade 3 by 10 lengths) last March. He still remains with some potential, stays well and will be suited by the going should it remain testing.

Seefood is another to bear in mind, though he does have the option of the Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree the following Saturday. Seefood lost his way in Ireland but has found his feet again for his new stable this year, finishing fifth in a handicap chase at Cheltenham last month before winning a weaker race at Musselburgh last time. That success came over two and a half miles but Seefood stays this far and is still potentially well treated off his new mark. The winner of that Cheltenham handicap was Coologue, another who goes for the Hennessy instead of this race.

Others worth a second look are last year's runner-up Virak, Knock House, who had an air of unfinished business about him when with Mick Channon and has since joined Donald McCain for £110,000, and the hat-trick-seeking Trickaway, though he does have his stamina to prove over this distance. Runswick Royal won twice as a novice chaser in 2014/15, including a three-mile listed race at Kelso last February, and bounced back from an unfortunate fall at the last at Ayr next time when a good length second in a handicap at Perth when last seen in June 2015. This is a big ask on his belated return, though.

Last season's Grade 1-winning novice Bristol de Mai is close up in the betting, but there must surely be a doubt about him staying three miles on testing ground given the way he usually races, while the hopes of Vivaldi Collonges are pinned on the return to a left-handed track.

Definitely Red holds solid claims, but he's hardly gone unnoticed in the betting, so a more attractive proposition is Fine Rightly who also ticks plenty of boxes and is currently available at bigger odds. Virak shouldn't be far away again, while Knock House could outrun likely long odds.


Win back Fine Rightly in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle

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