All aboard Stagecoach Pearl as Smith goes for victory close to home

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Stagecoach Pearl found the step up to Grade Two company a touch too tough when last seen but can regain the winning thread in Wetherby’s Castleford Handicap Chase.

Bingley trainer Sue Smith’s charge tried to make all at Ascot but was found out by the likes of Master Minded – although that is hardly a disgrace – with the northern raider eventually fading into last of the five finishers.

However, the bare form probably does not tell the full story as Stagecoach Pearl played a leading role in setting a new course record for the two-mile-three-furlong trip.

He was also reportedly struck into that day so perhaps it is best to put a line through that run and judge him on his previous victory at Kelso when he looked quite smart.

Willie Mullins was thanking his lucky stars after Blackstairmountain capped a treble-topping day for the County Carlow trainer by landing the feature race at Leopardstown.

With a double at the Dublin track and a fortunate winner in the shape of Sir Des Champs at Limerick, Mullins had plenty to be pleased about.

Blackstairmountain looked set for second spot in the Racing Post Novice Chase as David Pipe’s British raider Notus De La Tour led over the final fence.

The race lost some gloss when Bog Warrior fell at the fourth when taking the field along but the Grade One contest still proved to be a thrilling encounter.

Paul Townend brought Blackstairmountain (9-2) with a determined run to get up in the closing stages to score by two-and-a-quarter lengths.

The winner was cut to 12-1 from 16s by William Hill for the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham, while Stan James go 16-1 from 25s.

Mullins’s other Leopardstown winner came courtesy of 11-10 favourite Midnight Game, who got the better of Joxer by half a length.