14:05 Cheltenham

The race dominated by DOYEN QUEST (best price 8-1) and Steel Ally at Newbury a month ago was highlighted by a very good speed figure for the grade and with the distinct possibility Dan Skelton’s can continue his progression over today’s extra yardage, he rates the percentage call in a wide-open looking affair. 

The son of Doyen has certainly come of age of late and he needed all his grit and determination to get the better of a horse who set good fractions at the Berkshire track and maintained the gallop all the way to the line. 

A horse with a high cruising speed, today’s likely decent pace should suit and hailing from a stable that continue in a rich vein of form, the six-year-old chestnut could do his bit to help his handler’s title bid.

Doyen Quest - 0.5pts e/w

15:00 Newmarket

EMBESTO (best price 7-2) had some top-class form to his name on his first season in training and with the strong possibility he will be an even more potent force as a four-year-old, Roger Varian’s inmate is fancied to kick-start the new campaign with a bang. 

Impressive both visually and on the clock on his first two starts last season, the four-year-old was significantly raised in class for his next assignment at Newmarket and although he came up just a little short on the day, there was no shame attached to finishing an honourable second to the smart Nostrum. 
Dead-heating with Mighty Ulysses at Group 3 level at Salisbury on his penultimate outing, he rounded off his season with a fair effort in a better race at Longchamp and with conditions ideal for a horse who likes to skim across the ground, the son of Roaring Lion looks one of the most interesting prospects going forward. 

Embesto - 1pt

15:50 Cheltenham

It’s noticeable that Harriet Dickin has done well with the horses she’s inherited from the Anthony Carson/Milton Harris set-up and SHALLOW RIVER (best price 12-1) could be become another cab off the rank for the Somerset handler. 

An incredibly consistent performer in the last two seasons, the eight-year-old finally gained his due reward for a series of solid placed efforts in competitive handicaps at Exeter last time out and it’s form that reads well in the context of today’s race. 

Although the ground today is far removed from the surface he encountered 66 days ago, he has plenty of strong efforts on a much quicker terrain and arriving here fresh off a break, this strong stayer at the trip should be well suited by the demands of this track.

Shallow River - 0.5pts e/w

17:00 Cheltenham

OUR CHAMP (NAP) (best price 7-2) posted a career best on the figures at Plumpton last time out and with the ground seen as a contributory factor to that performance, conditions look to have once again fallen in favour of Chris Gordon’s inmate. 

A very impressive winner on the Old Course here back in October, he rather lost his way a little due to soft, winter conditions, but back on a surface that he enjoys, he bounced back to his best at the Sussex venue, beating a competitive field with some aplomb. 

With big gaps back to plenty of in-form horses, the race looks a totally believable, and with today’s contest almost guaranteed to be run the way he likes, anything other than a positive outcome will be something of a surprise. 

Our Champ - 1pt