12:25 Doncaster

ROMEO BROWN (best price 9-1) shaped as though two miles was an insufficient test for him at Wetherby last time out and with connections seemingly quick to recognise that belief too, Sue Smith’s gelding can easily outrun his odds back in Class 4 company. 

A ready winner the time before at Hexham, clocking a good speed figure into the bargain, the son of Yeats clearly relished the stiff nature of the Borders track, so it was no great surprise that he rather got taken off his feet against a better standard of opponent on a flat track next time. That said, he did stay on quite noticeably after the last and with today’s galloping circuit and extra distance likely to see him in a better light, he rates a decent each-way proposition with most firms settling down to fifth place at least. 

Romeo Brown - 1pt e/w @ 9/1

13:20 Cheltenham

The race won by Jacamar at Kempton on Boxing Day was noted for its very strong final mile and a half compared to both the two Grade 1’s on the same card and with fourth-placed Danny Kirwan backing up the view we are dealing with a pretty fair heat for the grade with his smooth victory at Wincanton in midweek, YOUR DARLING (best price 6-1) is fancied to carry the torch with similar distinction in this similar contest.

Always held in high regard at home, Ben Pauling’s gelding hasn’t quite yet hit the heights connections would have hoped for despite winning three out of eight starts, but had he not had one or two issues with his wind, it may well have been a totally different story. That said, he’s still only young horse with very few miles on the clock and as he showed at the Sunbury venue, the ability is there if it can be channelled in the right direction. In hindsight, both he and Danny Kirwan got racing far too early given how the race panned out and, as a result, he failed to see out the job having looked the most likely winner jumping the last. Unable to cope with rain-softened conditions at Aintree the time before, today’s unseasonably good ground should suit well and with Kielan Woods likely to be given instructions to keep his powder dry on the son of Shirocco for a little longer, the lightly-raced novice can prove he’s a horse for the big stage. 

Your Darling - 1pt e/w @ 6/1

13:55 Cheltenham

Hopefully, Your Darling runs with credit in the previous race, but either way, JACAMAR (best price 8-1) still makes plenty of appeal in his own right having run a career-high in that aforementioned Kempton heat a month ago. 

Nothing more than just okay on his first three runs over fences, cheekpieces were introduced in order to bring some sort of spark back to the seven-year-old 34 days ago and boy did they have the desired effect. Coming from some way off the strong gallop, Milton Harris’ gelding charged through on the run-in to pick up the pieces late on and in doing so he clocked not only a very fast speed figure, but his final circuit was considerably quicker than both Bravemansgame and Tornado Flyer in their respective races. Whether he can run to a similar level over a stiffer, undulating track remains to be seen, but at the morning odds, he’s worth a decent punt to find out. 

Jacamar - 1pt e/w @ 8/1

14:50 Fairyhouse

Not much strength in depth to this maiden hurdle it’s a race well within the capabilities of FLAME BEARER (best price 7-4) based on his hugely encouraging performance at Naas last time out. 
Shaping as the run was badly needed after trying to keep tabs with the high-class Dysart Dynamo at Cork on his first outing for 266 days, Pat Doyle’s gelding faced another well-regarded Willie Mullins runner at the Co Kildare venue and this time, the end outcome was a good deal more positive. Noted travelling well throughout, the son of Fame And Glory loomed up looking the likely winner approaching two out but just as though it appeared he might go on and take the front-running favourite, the daring inside route he was pursuing got shut in his face, forcing his riding to take evasive action. In doing so, the seven-year-old lost valuable ground and momentum at a crucial stage and although he rallied well on the run-in, the dye was cast. Although he’s from a point-to-point background, he’s clearly not short of pace and with today’s better ground likely to help this high cruiser to see out the trip better, he’s fancied to get the better of Micro Manage, who up to now, has been a little disappointing over hurdles. 

Flame Bearer - 1pt @ 7/4

17:30 Kempton

EL BELLO (best price 11-4) is gradually working out what the racing game is all about with each run and following his best effort so far to date in a useful novice event at Lingfield last time out, Marco Botti’s grey looks poised to play a significant role in his first attempt in handicap company.

Gelded after being well beaten on debut, the son of El Kabeir was a rather surprising springer at a big price on his next outing over tonight’s C&D (sent off 7-1), and although the gamble failed to gather any traction due to a slow beginning, there was enough to take out of his performance to offer a little more encouragement for further down the line. Dropped out towards the rear by design on his latest start at Lingfield, the three-year-old was still in an uncompromising position as the field turned for home, but he finished off his race with some purpose in the final two furlongs that he managed to grab an unlikely third-place at the line. Despite running on the slowest part of the track in the straight, his final three-furlong of 33.4 was the best of the nine-strong field and, with the winner, Party On Girl, going on to boost the form on her next start, there’s more than a fair chance this lightly-raced sort can repeat the dose off an opening mark of 71. 

El Bello - 1pt @ 11/4