Festive season for Sue Smith can get off to a great start

SUE SMITH, who plans to re-introduce her celebrated Grand National hero Auroras Encore in the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day, can figure on the scoreboard at Newcastle this afternoon with one of her rising stars.

Blakemount was a winner himself at Wetherby last month. Since then he has stepped up again to finish an excellent third at Newcastle behind high-class rivals Ballyalton and Oscar Rock.

A strong galloper, who will be well served by the soft ground and stiff course at Newcastle, Blakemount is napped to win the Pin Point Recruitment Novices’ Hurdle.

Smith also has good prospects in the Pin Point Northumberland Chase with recent course winner Swing Hard, but marginal preference is for Billy Cuckoo, who represents Norton trainer Tony Coyle.

Dougie Costello renews his association with Billy Cuckoo after riding a fine race to get this sometimes quirky customer home in front at Southwell a couple of weeks ago.

This looks tougher, but the seven-year-old is still fancied to run a big race.

Brian Ellison, another Norton trainer, has every chance of clinching the Pin Point Recruitment National Hunt Flat Race with Gone Forever.

Placed at Carlisle and Towcester on his two outings, Gone Forever can put his experience to good use against a whole host of unraced rivals.

Ellison will also be strong represented at Ascot by Totalize in the featured £150,000 Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle.

Useful last season, Totalize has each-way prospects off a light weight, but the winner of this fiercely competitive affair may come from the other end of the handicap, courtesy of Rolling Star.

Nicky Henderson’s classy gelding was a smart performer last term and he could hardly have made a better start this time around than when winning handsomely from useful rivals at Haydock last month.

He should go well, despite his big weight.

Tony McCoy, whose mount City Slicker, twice a winner at Punchestown this season for Willie Mullins, is among the prime dangers to Rolling Star, should enjoy a productive afternoon.

The legendary jockey rides Pendra, two from two over fences, in the BGC Partners Handicap Chase and McCoy will also be aboard At Fishers Cross, pictured, in the Wessex Youth Trust Long Walk Hurdle, which carries Grade 1 status.

Twice a winner last season at an identical level, At Fishers Cross fluffed his lines on his reappearance at Newbury when only fourth to Celestial Halo after an indifferent round of jumping.

Unbeaten last season, At Fishers Cross will need to get his act together today if he is to be considered for the major staying prizes later in the campaign.

Paul Nicholls’ Easter Day (1.15), an impressive winner at Newbury three weeks ago, and the Hennessy Gold Cup winner Triolo d’Alene (3.00), who has been raised 11lb since his memorable Newbury success, are two others to note at the day’s premier meeting.

RACING selections

Newcastle today
12.10 Blakemount (NAP),12.40 Swatow Typhoon, 1.10 Silverton, 1.40 Billy Cuckoo, 2.15 Chasse En Mer, 2.45 Cloverhill Lad, 3.20 Gone Forever.

Ascot today
12.45 Brave Buck, 1.15 Easter Day, 1.50 Pendra, 2.25 At Fishers Cross, 3.00 Triolo d’Alene, 3.35 Rolling Star.

Today’s other meetings: Haydock and Lingfield.

Tomorrow’s meetings: Bangor and Lingfield.

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