Tuesday’s Boylesports Champion Chase at Punchestown really lives up to its name with Willie Mullins fielding three of his stable stars.
Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Min all do battle and with over 160,000 euro just for the winner, the defending champion trainer is hoping to make early inroads into Gordon Elliott’s lead.
It has been a truncated campaign for Douvan, who did not reappear until the Cheltenham Festival, but he was showing all his old elan until falling at the fourth-last.
Un De Sceaux has this season added another Grade One and two Grade Twos to his bulging CV but he was put in his place by Balko Des Flos in the Ryanair at Cheltenham.
Min ran well at Cheltenham and Aintree but was beaten by Altior and Politologue respectively.
Assistant trainer Patrick Mullins, who gets the leg-up on Un De Sceaux, said: “He was second in the race last year, but he’s a little older.
“Two miles on this ground will probably mean you won’t see him at his very best, but he always runs a very good race so you couldn’t discount him.
“Douvan has schooled brilliantly since Cheltenham and with what I felt from him at Cheltenham I’ll be very disappointed if he doesn’t come back to his very best.
“I certainly haven’t lost any faith in him and he’s shown no ill effects from his fall. Hopefully he can leave a marker for next season.
“Min ran fantastically well at Cheltenham and again at Aintree where he probably ran a bit keen to get home over two and a half miles. He’s come out of that fine and provides some very good back-up.”
Mullins also runs Ballycasey, who finished fifth in the race last year.
Elliott runs likely outsiders The Game Changer, A Toi Phil and Tell Us More, but his main hope, Doctor Phoenix, has made great strides this season and was upsides Un De Sceaux when he came down at Fairyhouse last time.
“It would be too tough to say he would have beaten Un De Sceaux at Fairyhouse, but most importantly he is fine since that fall,” said Elliott.
“It looks like a very hot race, but he certainly deserves to take his chance and he’s been a grand horse for us this season.”
Henry de Bromhead fields former champion chaser Special Tiara and Ordinary World.
De Bromhead said: “Special Tiara seems in great form and has worked really well since Cheltenham.
“We are hoping for a good run. I’d hope it was just the ground at Cheltenham as he hates that really tacky ground. His ability is still there and he is in mighty form.
“Ordinary World appears to be in good form since Cheltenham and we are looking forward to a good run from him as well.”