Ellison planning dual challenge for Northumberland Plate

North-east native Brian Ellison has famously never won the Jenningsbet Northumberland Plate Handicap but he has two live chances this weekend in top-weight Tashkhan and November Handicap winner Onesmoothoperator.

Ellison was born on Plate day in 1952 and turns 72 the day before this year’s renewal.

In 2016 he came agonisingly close with Seamour, who looked home and hosed only to be caught late on by Godolphin’s Antiquarium.

This year he will saddle the highest-rated horse in Tashkhan, who was third in the Cesarewitch and the Group One Prix Royal-Oak last term, while Onesmoothoperator already has one big handicap on the all-weather to his name after the November Handicap was rerouted from Doncaster in 2023.

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“They’ll both run at the moment, that’s the plan anyway,” said Ellison.

Tashkhan (inside) went close in the Cesarewitch
Tashkhan (inside) went close in the Cesarewitch (Tim Goode/PA)

“Smoothie is very good round Newcastle, he likes it there, Tashkhan, we don’t know about the surface, but he is the best horse.

“His last two handicaps have been good, he won at Chester and then his Cesarewitch run is just about the best handicap form you can get. He was beaten a head and three-quarters by the two Irish horses (The Shunter and Pied Piper).

“Will he go on the all-weather? I just don’t know but I’m not going to run him on fast ground, so we haven’t got many options.

“The track could be riding slower in this weather but while that would suit him, I’m not sure it would suit Smoothie but we can’t have everything.”

When asked to split the pair, Ellison said: “Tashkhan is very fit, I know he hasn’t run for a while but he is fit. They have both got good chances, they are similar prices and it doesn’t look like the favourite (Pledgeofallegiance) is going to run.

“Smoothie worked this morning and he worked fantastic.

“It would be a monkey off my back if I could win it, everyone keeps asking but if I don’t manage it, I’ll try next year.”

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