15:05 Cheltenham

John McConnell has a terrific record with his UK runners in general, but especially with the small samples at today’s course, and in the shape of BARDENSTOWN LAD (best price 3-1), the Co Meath handler can improve upon his already decent strike rate.

Winner of two of three hurdles races so far to date, the son of Black Sam Bellamy has already dipped his toe into the UK waters by easily landing the odds at Cartmel back in August and although he got beaten on his next start at Navan, time may tell it was by no means a bad effort. Done for a bit of tactical speed as the runners came downhill from three out at the Co Meath venue, the chestnut gelding picked up again on the climb to the line and although he failed to peg back to the front pair who obtained first run, he left the impression he would be a seen as a greater force when receiving a stiffer test. With that in mind, today’s three miles around a demanding track such as Cheltenham should price right up his alley and it would come as little surprise if he were to go down a similar route to stable mate Streets Of Doyen and end up in Albert Bartlett back here at the festival in March.

Bardenstown Lad - 1pt @ 3/1

15:58 Newbury

CRÈME INGLESA (best price 6-1) has enjoyed a pretty productive season already, winning three times, and following another solid effort at Newmarket last time out, a fourth may not be that far out of reach for Mick Channon’s filly.

Beginning the campaign with a victory at Chepstow over a mile, the daughter of Lope De Vega had to wait two more starts before getting her head back in front at Sandown and when returning to the Esher venue a month later, she made it three by landing a competitive fillies handicap in some style. Coming from last to first that evening, the three-year-old posted a very smart time figure and even though she was upped in class as a result at HQ last time, she still had the levels of improvement left to run another career high. Proving her stays 1m4f 20 days ago, she only found the similarly progressive Nell Quickly too good, and now back on a much more favourably surface as far as she is concerned, another patient ride from the back of the field should once again reap maximum rewards.

Creme Inglesa - 0.5pts e/w @ 6/1

16:45 Dundalk

SISTER LOLA (NAP) (best price 6-5) has done really well for new connections since landing a claimer here a month ago and having proven she still remains in top shape courtesy of another fine effort over today’s C&D last week, the daughter of Slade Power can rack up win number four at her favourite track. 

Not off the mark until scoring at the 10th time of asking, the four-year-old certainly hasn’t rested on her laurels since then and ever since that day back in early September, she’s run no fewer than four times. Although running well on the turf, her better performances have come on the all-weather surface and her latest effort when just failing to catch the more prominently-ridden Marbling, has to go down as a career high. Now rated 80 and at the peak of her powers, James McAuley’s filly is expected to be switched off towards 

Sister Lola - 2pts @ 6/5

17:25 Cheltenham

GO DANTE (best price 6-4) ran out one of the most impressive bumper winners of last season at Wincanton on his debut and he’s strongly fancied to make a successful return to action on his first start over hurdles. 

Well supported prior to his racecourse bow at the west country track, Olly Murphy’s gelding travelled in the manner his odds suggested he might and once picking up the running passing the wings of two out, he quickened up in some style to pull well clear of his rivals. EWverything about that performance from the overall time to the backend sectionals were of a potentially top-class horse and it came as no surprise to see him entered up in the champion bumper at Aintree towards the tail end of the season. Wisely in hindsight, connections decided to pull the plug on that project largely due to unfavourable fast ground and he now has the floor to himself in his bid to show what he can do on the big stage. Hopefully he will come through his first big test with flying colours and begin the long winding road which leads to him coming back here in March for the curtain raiser.

Go Dante - 2pts @ 6/4