Cheltenham is back!

The two-day Showcase Meeting gets underway on Friday and, as you would expect, the racing is fiercely competitive.

Everyone wants to have a winner at Prestbury Park and that also applies to Nick Luck, who has studied the card and pulled out five fancies on the opening day:

Day One – The Showcase – Cheltenham

MIDNIGHT RIVER can cause a mild upset by winning the opener (1:50) at 7/1. Dan Skelton’s gelding showed a tremendous attitude and a very slick hurdling technique to win at Uttoxeter, stepping up markedly on his bumper form from last season. The runner up has won subsequently, while the distant third has run creditably on the Flat since. Midnight River needs to take another step forward against stiffer opposition here but is quite a big price and has the advantage of a recent run over most of his rivals.

MOSSY FEN has the makings of quite a serious chaser and he’ll need to be to win a ridiculously hot novice chase (2:25). Favourite Galvin is not certain to be at his optimum over this distance, while Soldier Of Love has been brilliantly placed but takes on much hotter opposition here. The 9/2 selection receives eight pounds from each of his main rivals, and his hurdles form exceeded that of either despite looking a bit raw last year. He might be one of the brighter staying novice prospects in Britain.

UP THE STRAIGHT is an each way selection at 12/1 in a really competitive handicap hurdle (3:00). His third to Shishkin in the Sidney Banks and his defeat of dual subsequent winner Flic Ou Voyou at Kempton suggest that he is by no means over handicapped off a mark of 135, and also suggest that he wants relatively decent ground to be seen at his best (which he’ll get here). As such, he ran very creditably on his seasonal comeback at Fontwell, when he travelled like the winner until fading in the very testing conditions on the run-in.

ON THE SLOPES is on my William Hill “horses to follow” list for the 2020/2021 season, so I can hardly desert him now as he makes his seasonal debut in the handicap chase (3:35). I’ve said it all before, but there aren’t many better jumpers of a fence in training, he’s shown some nice form here (unlucky not to win on Trials Day) and can keep improving this season. The presence of Rouge Vif and Dolos keeps quite a few out of the handicap, while the talented selection can go well off his correct mark at 9/2. I’ll be having a small bet each way on MOVIE LEGEND at 25/1 too. His form plateaued a bit last season, but I have a hunch that Bryony Frost will really suit his running style, and I expect him to outrun his odds.

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