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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Longsdon double-handed for MandarinHeadlines
Rey Nacarado

Last year's winner Rey Nacarado forms one half of a strong Charlie Longsdon challenge for Saturday's Betfred Mandarin Handicap Chase at Newbury.

Once a more prestigious race than it is now, and run over the course and distance of the Hennessy, this extended three and a quarter-mile event is staged in memory of the remarkable winner of the 1962 Grand Steeplechase de Paris.

Longsdon's principal runner, though, could be Pete The Feat, the choice of regular stable jockey Noel Fehily, who is four from four over fences at smaller venues already this season. Tony McCoy has been snapped up for the spare on Rey Nacarado, who was fourth to Ballyoliver at the course on December 1.

Longsdon said: "In an ideal world I wouldn't be running the two in the same race, but unfortunately it's not an ideal world. Pete The Feat has done nothing wrong, he's flying up the handicap and is on a real roll.

"This is a big step up in class, but his confidence is sky high and it will be interesting to see how he gets on. Rey has been dropping down the handicap and is now only 1lb higher than when winning the race last year. He didn't run at all badly over course and distance last time, and with McCoy up, he could go well. Both should be fine on the (heavy) ground."

An obvious contender for the red-hot Nicky Henderson yard will be Michael Buckley's State Benefit, who scraped home at Sandown recently on his return from a summer break.

Kim Bailey is not desperately optimistic about Midnight Haze, who was sixth in Cheltenham's cross country race and ran in the Grand National last term but has not sparkled at either of those venues this time around.

The trainer said: "He won't mind the ground but he's at the top end of the handicap and has lost his form a bit and been disappointing, so he needs to improve to be in the frame."

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