The Jumps season really cranks up a notch on Saturday with some great action at Wetherby, Ascot and Down Royal.

Here are Nick Luck’s fancies.


REVELS HILL is the pick to take the TV opener at Wetherby (1.20pm). Although he showed some form over hurdles, he ought to be better as a chaser, and connections clearly believe his handicap mark is competitive to start him off here. His best run last year makes him a major player here and that, allied to his yard being in far better form than at any stage last season, makes him the choice at 11/2 in a very open race.

MARIE’S ROCK needs a leap of faith, but I’ll take it at 7/2 in the Mares’ hurdle (1.55pm). Considered a potential Champion Hurdle horse in the mould of Epatatnte by her trainer, she was really disappointing last season. Although the obvious conclusion is that her breathing was bothering her (has had wind op), she just never seemed happy, was far too keen and never gave herself a chance. If she comes back to her old self, she will win this tidily.

THOMAS DARBY looks the sensible choice in the West Yorkshire Hurdle (2.30pm) at 7/2. He has always been decent, but his last two runs last year suggested first that he was getting a bit outpaced over shorter and, at Aintree, that he could replicate his old classy form over three miles. That run doesn’t put him too far off Paisley Park’s best from last year, yet he comes in here the more progressive horse with his stable firing on all cylinders.

KITTY’S LIGHT might surprise the big guns in the Charlie Hall (3.05pm) at 11/1. Who knows what to expect from Cyrname? If he turns up, he’ll win on the bridle, but he’s a hard horse to recommend at short odds. Fusil Raffles doesn’t strike me as an obvious candidate for the trip, while softening of the ground is against Clondaw Castle. The talented and unexposed Shan Blue is actually rated lower than the selection, who is a hard as nails, in the form of his life, has the benefit of a recent run and is almost certainly still improving.

BOURBON BEAUTY is a fair price at 10/1 to take the handicap hurdle (3.40pm). She improved no end last year, but was really quite impressive in the mares’ final at Newbury, making nearly all to beat a very well handicapped mare. This doesn’t look an unrealistic target even though she has the hidden class rise outside races confined to her own sex, and the track should suit her running style. I’d certainly expect to see her right there at the last.


WHATSUPWITHYOU looks a very big price at 9/1 in Ascot first TV race (1.35pm). He doesn’t appear as unexposed as some, but he was largely taking in really competitive hurdle races last year and acquitting himself very well, including at the Festival. He should find the rhythm of this race pretty calm by comparison and – if he can jump fences – he ought to be a big player under a more experienced rider.

BOOTHILL (9/4) is a bit of a mug’s selection in the Bateaux London Hurdle (2.10pm), but it’s hard to escape the idea that he could be about a stone well handicapped off 135. Even his head-in-chest canter round Taunton, when value for double the nine-length margin, makes this mark look quite lenient given the second, third and fourth are all perfectly reasonable mid-120s horses. He flicked them out of the way disdainfully that day and, while this is a hot race, his trainer thinks he’s a real top notcher.

AMOOLA GOLD has a decent chance of repeating last year’s success in the Byrne Group (2.45pm) at 8/1. Although much higher in the weights now, he kept improving last year, and his excellent second to Sky Pirate at Warwick suggested that he could remain very interesting off this mark. More pertinently, he loves this track, the yard goes well and he gets on especially well with Bridget Andrews. With the likelihood of a scorching pace and softening of the ground, the race should fall apart nicely in his favour.

CHECKITOUT looks a great bet each-way in the Ascot feature (3.20) at 20/1. As we found out on our recent visit, the stable has been breathing new life into their horses this season and this horse looked really exciting at Ludlow last spring before being asked too much too soon on his next two starts. The final run was easily excused, and he now looks tidily treated off just a three-pound higher mark than the runaway Ludlow success.

Down Royal

GALVIN might just announce himself as a horse with something to say at senior championship level in the feature at Down Royal (2.50pm) at 7/2. He is the youngest horse in the race and looks still to be improving judged on comeback performance. He has the edge of a prep run over all his rivals and it’s hard to tell just how good he might be as he is never too flamboyant. By contrast, Frodon and Minella Indo are both natural enthusiasts, doing plenty on the bridle, and it might be that they get racing a long way out here, which would play nicely into Galvin’s hands. Delta Work is a horse that I’ve in no way given up on, but he has tended to move up sharply from his seasonal debut.