Cheltenham is back! The home of Jumps stages its first fixture of the new season on Saturday, while there is great action on the Flat at Newbury and Doncaster.

As usual, Nick Luck is here to guide you through the action.

Cheltenham

STRAW FAN JACK is a value at 14/1 to run a big race in the hurdle that opens up ITV’s Cheltenham coverage this season (1.45pm). Like his trainer, he was a revelation last year, improving rapidly with each start. He was in deep when well beaten in Grade One company on his final start, but he ran pretty well to a point, may not be fully exposed, won’t mind if the ground softens (unlike a few of these), and will appreciate a return to handicaps under a good rider.

DEFINITE PLAN might be the answer to a very spicy handicap chase (2.20pm) at 11/1. There is tons of pace on in this race, with Cloth Cap, Jersey Bean and Minella Bobo all confirmed candidates for the lead. The selection hasn’t quite cut it over fences yet, but that was a much better effort over an inadequate trip at Gowran Park last time, and I am not sure the handicapper has got hold of him. He looks a real stayer to me and cheekpieces might squeeze a pound or two more out of him.

I LIKE TO MOVE IT can upset the front two in the Masterson Hurdle (2.55pm) at 10/3. A smart bumper horse, he looked pretty useful on his recent hurdles debut, and looked as though more conventional hurdles might suit better. He is a different type to the ex-Flat horses, but will have a significant fitness advantage, his stable are in the old-style October form, and you’re taking it on trust that Tritonic is a much better horse than he showed in the Triumph Hurdle.

BELARGUS (6/1) might want a bit further than this, and he may be blowing the cobwebs away here (3.30pm), but he was very progressive last year and is a proper smooth travelling  ‘winter’ horse against those that have been getting hammered by the handicapper for winning weak races in the summer. His serious rival is conceding him and, while Sky Pirate is all class, 21lbs is an awful lot. Before Midnight may be a bigger threat.

BORN PATRIOT (8/1) can upset his better fancied compatriot Tullybeg in the Pertemps Qualifier (4.05pm). An able and consistent horse, he ran very tidily behind the favourite at Navan last time. The key point about that run was that he did by far the best of those held up, yet was only beaten seven lengths at the line. He is now eight pounds better off with that rival and represents the Belfast Banter connections.

Newbury

LIGHT INFANTRY looks a nice prospect and can prove it by winning the Horris Hill at Newbury (2.00pm) at 4/1. He smashed a subsequent winner (easing down heavily) when nicely backed on his debut at Yarmouth, looking every inch a stakes horse. The key stallion influences in his pedigree – Fast Company and Kyllachy – suggest that soft ground may not be a massive inconvenience and I expect a big run.

SISKANY looks a decent enough favourite at evens in a thin St Simon Stakes (2.35pm), even allowing for it being the end of a longish season. He looked another Charlie Appleby horse to have come on a ton for a gelding operation when beating smart and progressive rivals in a Newmarket handicap, he has shown he can cope with easy ground, and there should be quite a bit more to come.

Doncaster

BAYSIDE BOY (11/2) is the pick at the prices in the Vertem Futurity at Doncaster (3.15pm). The ground is a little bit of an unknown, but his half-brother Forest Ranger handled it really well, and he won the Champagne Stakes here with cut. I think he might have finished second in the Dewhurst with a clear run and that – just – makes him the form pick here notwithstanding the obvious potential of Luxembourg.

GOLD MEDAL might be a pretty useful prospect for Richard Hughes in the Listed race (3.50pm) and he gets the vote at 11/2. He looked quite assured when winning easily on his debut, but he was beating some horses who had plenty of experience, including previous winners. He Is related to three stakes-class sprinters and doesn’t have an especially high standard to aim at here, bar the favourite Flaming Rib, who won’t get things all his own way here.

BOUNDLESS POWER might win the tight battle of the two Mick Appleby horses in the final TV race from Donny (4.20pm) at 11/2. He’s a little quirky, but has really got the hang of it lately, and really won very cosily at Ascot last time on very bad ground. Four pounds is not a stern imposition off the back of that run and there should be plenty of pace to aim at on track where he showed such useful form to finish an unlucky second in the Portland.

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