NEWCASTLE racegoers can seize an early initiative by supporting HENPECKED in the opening mile-and-a-half handicap this evening.

Alistair Whillans' mare has been on a lengthy losing run and has yet to strike on an all-weather circuit in 14 previous attempts.

Yet there is hope she can finally do the business after catching the eye over this course and distance three weeks ago.

Henpecked finished runner-up to Esspeegee in an amateur riders' handicap, although that perhaps does not tell the full story as she encountered a rough passage towards the winning line.

The daughter of Footstepsinthesand stayed on earnestly once daylight appeared passing the two-furlong marker and she only missed out by a length and a quarter.

Even despite that decent effort, Henpecked runs off the same, humble-looking mark of 67 and, perhaps just as importantly, has the assistance of Paul Hanagan in the saddle as today's nap selection.

Hanagan can claim a Newcastle double with WINDSOR CROSS.

Owned and trained by Richard Fahey, the three-year-old grey won nicely at this track on January 11 and has not been unfairly treated by the assessor ahead of this seven-furlong handicap.

Windsor Cross also claimed victory in a novice auction stakes at Newcastle in December, so he obviously enjoys himself on the Tapeta. He could be a little better than a mark of 82 tends to suggest.

BUCKLAND BEAU would not be winning out of turn in a mile-and-a-quarter handicap at Chelmsford.

Charlies Fellowes' seven-year-old has not got his head in front since he completed a hat-trick at Kempton last February – but he is weighted accordingly and went jolly close over course and distance a week and a half ago.

Buckland Beau lost out by just a head to Lazarus and is seemingly coming to hand nicely for this assignment.

It is also interesting that Fellowes has reached for a pair of first-time blinkers in his quest to get the son of Rock Of Gibraltar back on the straight and narrow.

CHANDOS BELLE is worth more than a cursory glance when she contests a two-mile handicap hurdle at Leicester.

The five-year-old mare is still a maiden after five tries over hurdles but there are races to be won with her.

Trainer Stuart Edmunds must have been satisfied with Chandos Belle on her most recent outing on New Year's Eve, when she finished fourth in a handicap hurdle for novices.

She looked poised to win at one stage but grew weary late on and ended up getting brushed aside when it mattered.

Chandos Belle was only beaten four lengths, though, with the decision to revert to the minimum trip at Leicester highly likely to play to her strengths.

She also runs off a winnable-looking mark of 100 and ought to have no problems handling the ground if it is testing, with a precautionary early inspection planned.

CERCA TROVA should return to Ireland with the lion's share of the prize-money for winning a mares' handicap hurdle at Ayr.

Shrewd County Meath trainer Jim Dreaper looks to have found a nice opportunity for this 12-year-old, who claimed top honours in a handicap chase at Tramore on her last start on New Year's Day.

Yet Cerca Trova is also a decent operator over hurdles, having won back-to-back races at Fairyhouse and Clonmel this time last year.

She runs off a 1lb lower mark than when successful at the last-named venue and has plenty of archived form when the mud is flying.