FORTUNES change rapidly in racing but class is permanent.

And the past few weeks have seen a remarkable return to form of leading northern jumps trainer Sue Smith, aided as always by husband and assistant Harvey, and ignited by the outstanding drive of top stable jockey Danny Cook.

Back in November, when their Scottish champion hurdle winner Midnight Shadow came down with a narrow lead at the final fence, Sue and Harvey left Carlisle still searching for the win that had eluded them since the previous April.

The eight-month famine finally ended at Uttoxeter in December where Cook guided Informateur and Silver Eclipse to a welcome winning double.

Since that much-needed breakthrough hardly a Northern meeting has gone by without the popular Bingley duo gracing the winner’s circle, and the statistics revealed earlier this week that five of their last 15 runners had been successful.

That strike-rate was shared by Cook, the highlight of which has been his brilliant handling of Midnight Shadow at Cheltenham’s New Year fixture and the wide-margin triumph of Vintage Clouds at Haydock last Saturday.

One of Trevor Hemmings’ favourite chasers, he has been placed at the Cheltenham Festival and gone close in both the Welsh and Scottish Nationals as well as featuring prominently in previous runnings of the Peter Marsh.

Vintage Clouds had hinted that his winning time was near on his recent run in Haydock’s Tommy Whittle Chase, in which he had stayed on strongly to finish a closing third.

Not content with the one Saturday success, the Smiths went on to saddle Silver Eclipse to land the final race at Haydock and were back in the winning enclosure on Monday with Kauto d’Amour at Newcastle.

An eye-catching third in that same Newcastle heat was the lightly-raced Ballydonagh Boy, trained by Pauline Robson for the It’s A Bargain Syndicate organised by Liz Fairbairn.

The syndicate numbers several Cumbrian-based members including Vicky Royds from Armathwaite.

Vicky has been involved with It’s A Bargain for a long while and is optimistic about the future of Ballydonagh Boy who would surely have gone significantly closer at Newcastle had he not made a crucial error four out.

The ITV cameras take in some fascinating action from Cheltenham and Doncaster on Saturday where the highlight will be the Skybet Chase, formerly known as the Great Yorkshire Chase.

Bookmakers have the Nicky Henderson-trained L’Serge vying for favouritism with Dingo Dollar but preference here will be for Mister Whitaker and My Old Gold.

The Mick Channon-trained Mister Whitaker won the Colin Parker Memorial in 2018 since when he has been lightly raced.

He was a fair fifth at Cheltenham last time out but stamina could prove a problem and the sporting choice has to be Nicky Richards’s My Old Gold.

The mare is something of a Doncaster specialist, she acts well on the soft and her stamina is her strongest suit.

Phil Kirby is bidding for a major North-South double.

His Lady Buttons has to hold a leading chance in the featured mares hurdle at Doncaster while stablemate Top Ville Ben puts his Gold Cup chances to the test in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham.

The Rowland Meyrick winner takes on the likes of Santini, Bristol De Mai and Delta Work but his late burst of speed can surprise his more fashionable rivals.