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MAC A MARVEL; Step on the Gus as kid Corbett can become a weekend TV star; NEWSBOY OUR TOP MAN PUTS RACING UNDER THE MICROSCOPE.

GUS MACRAE can catapult conditional jockey Patrick Corbett into the Channel 4 limelight by landing the Sporting Bet Handicap Chase (3.40) at Newbury today.

Corbett, who can claim a useful 10lb allowance, has forged a formidable alliance with the Rebecca Curtis eightyear-old this winter.

The pair teamed up for the first time for a two-mile handicap chase at Aintree at the end of October, and hit it off straight away with a three-andthree-quarter-length defeat of Silver Roque.

Corbett once more got a good tune from the son of Accordion in a similar event at Ascot four weeks ago, as Gus Macrae galloped to victory by a length and a half from Lidar.

Another personal best is needed today after the British Horseracing Authority assessor raised the Welsh challenger 8lb to a new rating of 136.

But Gus Macrae's profile is upwardly mobile - he has won three of his last four races - so expect him to scale new heights for his young rider.

Another invader from across the Welsh border, SCOTS GAELIC, looks well handicapped for his debut for Tim Vaughan in the Sportingbet Handicap Hurdle (2.35).

The five-year-old previously ran under both codes for Irish trainer Pat Flynn, landing a maiden hurdle at Wexford last March. Campaigned on the Flat over the summer, Scots Gaelic won a handicap at Fairyhouse before running a fine fourth in the Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting in June, also making the frame at the Galway Festival.

Back over jumps at Tipperary in October, the chestnut finished a staying-on second over two miles, giving the strong impression he'd be suited by a return to further.

Third in a valuable handicap on the level at Naas a fortnight later, Scots Gaelic gets the chance to prove that theory correct on his first outing for Vaughan, who was on the mark at Newbury yesterday with Wings Of Smoke.

Only the needy or the greedy will get involved with BIG BUCK'S, who seeks a fourth straight triumph in the Grade 2 Sportingbet Long Distance Hurdle (2.00).

Switched back to hurdles after unseating Sam Thomas at the final fence of the Hennessy Gold Cup in 2008, the nine-year-old hasn't been beaten since.

His 17-strong winning spree includes four Ladbrokes World Hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival, and the ninelength dismissal of Crack Away Jack in the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree last April took him past Sir Ken's modern-day record for victories on the bounce.

Paul Nicholls, having watched a racecourse gallop at Exeter last month, is convinced his staying powerhouse is as good as ever, and it will rank as one of the upsets of the season if his colours are lowered here.

If Newcastle's fixture passes an inspection at 8am, CINDERS AND ASHES looks to have the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle (2.20) at his mercy.

Successful at Aintree and then twice at Haydock, Cinders And Ashes then went to the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, where he proved a length and a quarter too strong for Darlan, ruled out of a rematch by Nicky Henderson on account of the soft ground.

The concluding At The Races Rehearsal Chase (3.25) is a good opportunity for JUNIOR to get his career back on track.

David Pipe aimed his nine-year-old at the John Smith's Grand National, but that plan hit the buffers early on as Junior fell at the second.

A bid for compensation in the Scottish equivalent two weeks later also ended in disappointment as Junior was pulled up behind Merigo.

This small-field contest, in which three of his rivals race from out of the handicap, should prove less exacting.

WHAT IS A HANDICAP RATING?

A HORSE'S ability is measured through its handicap rating - expressed in pounds - compiled by a team of British Horseracing Authority assessors.

Simply, the better the horse, the higher its rating, and so the more weight it carries in a handicap, with the aim that runners with different abilities, by carrying different weights, should reach the winning post together.

Every time a horse posts a personal best, its rating rises accordingly.

Horses who run from 'out of the handicap proper' or the 'long handicap' have not reached the minimum rating for a particular race, so carry more weight than their ratings would entitle them to.

CAPTION(S):

BACK FOR GOOD Junior can return to winning form in the Rehearsal Chase

BIG FANCY Gus McCrae can do the business
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 1, 2012
Words:742
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