Ante-post favourite Vauban heads 12 declarations for Friday’s JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Trained by Willie Mullins, Vauban finished second to the reopposing Pied Piper on his racecourse bow before stepping up on that to win a Grade One at the Dublin Racing Festival last month.
Fil Dor was back in second that day and he is in opposition again as one of two runners for Gordon Elliott along with the aforementioned Pied Piper.
That one was a Cheltenham winner on Trials Day in January.
Mullins also fields Icare Allen and Il Etait Temps, with Ages Of Man for Anthony McCann and Noel Meade’s Lunar Power completing a strong Irish challenge.
Gary Moore’s Porticello heads the home defence and he also fields Teddy Blue in the two-mile Grade One, with Knight Salute aiming to extend his winning streak to six as he lines up for Milton Harris.
Dan Skelton’s Doctor Parnassus and the David Pipe-trained Koi Dodville are the other contenders.
The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle has drawn 19 contenders, with Elliott’s Ginto leading the way after winning each of his three hurdles starts.
The trainer also fields Where It All Began while Mullins has four runners in Classic Getaway, Minella Cocooner, Ramillies and The Nice Guy.
Hillcrest is the leading British hope for Henry Daly following his recent Haydock success with Archie Watson’s Stag Horn and the Dermot Weld-trained Falcon Eight other eyecatching names in the line up.