Catterick three-timer beckons for ace Norton trainer Brian Ellison

Brian Ellison, who sent out more than 100 winners, Flat and jumps in 2013, can begin the New Year with a bang at Catterick today by completing a treble.

The Norton trainer is fancied to score with Admiral Hawke, Kayfrou and Five In A Row, who is of particular interest in the Racing Again On 9th January Novices’ Hurdle.

Winner of a point-to-point on his sole outing before joining Ellison, Five In A Row won a Carlisle bumper on his first run for his new trainer, who then elected to start him off over hurdles in hot company at Newcastle last month.

Five In A Row fared pretty well in the circumstances, filling fourth spot behind the high-class Ballyalton, Oscar Rock, who has since finished placed in Grade 1 company and Blakemount, who came out next time on the same course to post a wide-margin win.

Five In A Row does not face as daunting a task today and will also relish the step up to an extended three miles. With Dougie Costello in the saddle, he is napped to prevail.

In the opening Happy New Year Novices’ Hurdle, Ellison saddles Admiral Hawke, the mount of Nathan Moscrop.

Well beaten on his first run for Ellison at Sandown in handicap company four weeks ago, Admiral Hawke had previously shown some decent form in Ireland. He should go well back in novice company in which his main danger may come from newcomer Martin Chuzzlewhit, who was a smart mid-80s handicapper on the Flat.

Kayfrou can also add to Ellison’s tally in the 60/53 New Year Celebration Handicap Hurdle.

The nine-year-old got his head in front at Bangor last time out and looks capable of making a bold bid off only a 5lb higher mark.

Also worth considering at the North Yorkshire course are Dungeel (1.40), who won two of his three starts over hurdles and who now tackles fences, and Tony Coyle’s Billy Cuckoo (2.50), whose latest placed effort at Newcastle came on the back of a Southwell success.

At Cheltenham, John Quinn saddles his highly-rated Racing Pulse in the opening Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.

A runaway winner at Newcastle on his first run for the Norton trainer, Racing Pulse, who had previously won a point-to-point and a bumper in Ireland, faces some tough opposition this afternoon.

Indeed, if he comes through with flying colours, he will earn himself a direct ticket to Cheltenham’s Festival meeting in March. James Reveley again has the mount.

Oscar Whisky, a winner on this course on his latest outing, has the potential go far over fences.

The former top-notch hurdler bids to register his second success over the major obstacles in the Cheltenham Pony Club Raceday Novices’ Chase, in which he will be opposed by Taquin Du Seuil with whom he is closely matched on previous form.

Cedre Bleu, narrowly beaten at Ascot on his latest start, has good prospects of gaining compensation in the Fairlawne Handicap Chase, while in the Dornan Engineering Hurdle, all eyes will be on Annie Power, who makes the journey from Willie Mullins’ all-conquering Irish yard in a bid to extend her impressive unbeaten record.

Yet to taste defeat in eight outings, including five over hurdles, Annie Power is an exciting talent.

If she can beat the smart Zarkandar for a second time, it will be further confirmation that she is capable of taking on the very best hurdlers around in the coming weeks and months.

RACING selections

Catterick today
12.30 Admiral Hawke, 1.05 Bocamix, 1.40 Dungeel, 2.15 Kayfrou, 2.50 Billy Cuckoo, 3.25 Five In A Row (NAP).

Cheltenham today
12.10 Racing Pulse, 12.45 De La Bech, 1.20 Oscar Whisky, 1.55 Return Spring, 2.30 Cedre Bleu, 3.05 Annie Power, 3.40 Adeupas d’Ycy.

Today’s other meetings: Exeter, Fakenham, Musselburgh and Southwell.

Tomorrow’s meetings: Ayr, Huntingdon, Southwell and Wolverhampton.

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