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Forest Bihan leads Brian Ellison squad into battle at Newcastle

Fri 2 Mar 2018

Cheltenham Festival candidate Forest Bihan heads Brian Ellison's team of five on duty at the jumpers bumpers meeting at Newcastle on Saturday.

Ellison is a big supporter of these additional fixtures and believes they are important when the country is in the grip of winter.

The North Yorkshire handler was busy at a similar fixture at Southwell on Friday and is happy to move on to Gosforth Park where a seven-race card starts at 2.05.

"We need to have these meetings. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago about putting them on. They are a big help," he said.

The star of the Ellison party is Johnny Henderson Grand Annual entrant Forest Bihan, who struts his stuff in the 188Bet Best Priced Mullins Cheltenham Wednesday 'Jumpers Bumper' National Hunt Flat Race, run over the extended two miles,.

"Basically, he's getting ready for Cheltenham really and you may as well run for some money," he said.

"He wouldn't want it on the soft side at the Festival but if the ground was good to soft, he'd run."

Promising young novice chaser Ballycrystal gets the chance to stretch his legs in the Noel Fehily Cheltenham Previews at 188Bet 'Jumpers Bumper' National Hunt Flat Race.

"He wants good ground, which is why we haven't run him so much, but he should be all right on the all-weather," said Ellison.

Staff and officials at Newcastle have been working round the clock to ensure the all-weather card, for which 51 horses were declared, goes ahead.

"It's been a tricky week but it's all systems go for Saturday We'll keep working the track to keep it turned over," said acting clerk of the course Paul Barker.

"The parade ring, public areas and service roads are being cleared.

"Roads around the area are pretty clear, so we don't envisage any problems at the moment.

"We have just lost the yellow weather warning in the area for the next 12 hours, so that's positive.

"We're hovering about 0 and -1C, which is good compared to what we've had. Through the night there's a bit of light snow around which shouldn't concern us and the wind eases.

"We'll work the track right through the night and up to an hour before racing.

"It's currently raceable. All we're doing is continuing to monitor and to work as necessary to maintain what we've got now."

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