Finian's Oscar is poised to deliver poignant win for late owner Potts
Potential stars of this Jump season have already been out but the return to Cheltenham today, for its three-day November meeting, signals the proper start of the season.
The Flat's turf campaign is done and now, a bit of mud apart, jump racing's road is clear to its return to Cheltenham in the spring for the Festival in March.
The most intriguing race is the Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase. A victory for Finian's Oscar, a class act over hurdles and a promising chaser, would be poignant given the death of his owner Alan Potts on Tuesday but while likely, it is not guaranteed for Bryan Cooper's mount.
Movewiththetimes, runner-up in the Betfair Hurdle, was not disgraced over two miles on his chasing debut here in October.
William Henry was pretty useful over hurdles although Nicky Henderson avoided the main festivals with him, while Coo Star Sivola won a novice hurdle here on New Year's Day.
A central plank of this fixture has always been the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase.
This is Enda Bolger territory, and he fields two in Cantlow and Auvergnat, it was won last year by Emmanuel Clayeux's Urgent de Gregaine and the nine-year-old returns after finishing a most unlucky second in last month's famous Velka Pardubicka in the Czech Republic.
His jockey Felix de Giles looked certain to become only the third British jockey to win the race in 50 years having led from halfway but he was caught on the run-in.
"I was absolutely certain I'd still win jumping the last," explained De Giles. "I felt there was still a bit there, but the other horse flew."
After a fall last spring De Giles had seven plates inserted into his face. The horse which gave him the fall was Clayeux's other runner Vicomte du Seuil and the jockey is worried that, dropped 10lb in the handicap and back in good form, he might add insult to injury.
© Daily Telegraph, London