The Cheltenham November meeting is the start of a fantastic run of jumps fixtures through to Christmas and Racing Post tipster Graeme Rodway is here to share his best bets on day one.
The Markel Insurance Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (1.10) is an open race, but Hector Javilex is progressive and might be capable of taking another step up the ladder.
The lightly-raced five-year-old won twice in the spring at Southwell and Ludlow and returned from a winter break to record a career-best run when fifth in a Grade 2 at Chepstow last time.
He beat only one home and finished nine and a half lengths behind the winner, but was racing off level weights against some smart performers and that was probably a better race than this.
Hector Javilex makes his handicap debut off a fair-looking mark of 123 and Lily Pinchin is booked to ride. She is superb value for her 3lb claim, especially against fellow conditionals.
The Glancing Queen will be a warm order for the 2m handicap chase (1.45), but Captain Tom Cat has equally good form and ran one of his best races of last year over course and distance.
Captain Tom Cat ended up falling in that contest, but he was in the process of giving smart performer Third Time Lucki a fright when doing so. He was only four-lengths behind that rival and rallying when coming down at the last in a Grade 2 at this meeting 12 months ago.
He was off the track for the rest of last season and has been below par on both starts this campaign, but one of those runs came over hurdles and the other was in a Grade 2 at Aintree.
This is a much easier task and Captain Tom Cat could make all in first-time blinkers.
The Glenfarclas Veterans' Handicap Chase (2.55) looks like a good opportunity for Kauto Riko to get reward for some good efforts at this track by landing his first course victory.
Kauto Riko was fourth in the Gold Cup at this meeting in 2020 and ran another cracker here in January when finishing in fourth of five behind Chantry House in the Cotswold Chase.
A reproduction of that form would probably be good enough and Kauto Riko has a good record when fresh, so he can be expected to be at his peak following a 167-day absence.
The cheekpieces which he has worn before return and this might be the time to catch him.
Willie Mullins is the king of Cheltenham at the moment. He has an outstanding record at The Festival and two of his last three runners at this track away from that meeting have also won.
Dads Lad was the latest to do so at the Showcase fixture here last month and it looks significant he sends over Hubrisko to compete in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (3.30)
Paul Townend makes the trip from Ireland for just this ride and Hubrisko showed solid form when third behind unbeaten stablemate Champ Kiely and last season's Fred Winter winner Brazil in a Grade 3 at Tipperary last time. That was over 2m, a trip that is shorter than ideal.
The extra five-furlongs here can bring more improvement from Hubrisko and he should win.
The Valda Energy Novices' Handicap Hurdle (4.00) brings the curtain down on the card and Mothill rates a good bet to complete a hat-trick following an impressive win at Chepstow.
The Neil Mulholland-trained four-year-old quickened up well to land that 2m handicap hurdle in Wales last month and the form is working out remarkably well for the grade.
The third finished only seven lengths behind Pied Piper at this course next time and the fifth home, Impulsive One, came out and landed a handicap hurdle at Huntingdon on Tuesday.
Mothill is up only 4lb for that latest win and looks capable of finding the progress needed.