Kilbricken Storm is out to prove his 33-1 Cheltenham Festival success was no “fluke” in the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on Wednesday.
Colin Tizzard’s seven-year-old never looked in any danger on his way to a three-length win last month.
“He was very impressive at Cheltenham and I don’t see any reason why that was a fluke,” said assistant trainer Joe Tizzard.
“Aintree just came a bit too quick for him. He has the best part of six weeks since he last ran and he has beaten them all before.
“He is probably our best chance (of the meeting).
“He has always just hung a bit under pressure. He hangs a bit left, but he has won round Wincanton which is as sharp a right-handed track you will find. Harry Cobden doesn’t see it as much of a problem.
“He should not have a problem handling the quicker surface, as he handled that sort of ground in the autumn.”
Kilbricken Storm will need to beat the might of Willie Mullins, who fields three, headed by Neptune Novices’ Hurdle third Next Destination, who is stepping up in trip.
“Next Destination is not as slow as he looked at Cheltenham!” said assistant trainer Patrick Mullins.
“He ran a strange race. He ran very well in the bumper the year before so it’s hard to blame the track or something.
“We’re stepping him up in trip anyway and you’d hope that will bring the best out of him. Hopefully he sets the standard.”
Mullins also runs Albert Bartlett fourth Ballyward and Brahma Bull, who met with his first defeat in the Neptune.
“Ballyward went to Cheltenham with very little experience and I think he will have improved from that,” said Mullins.
“He was staying on at the end so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him staying on after the last again.
“Brahma Bull went to Cheltenham on the back of just one run over hurdles after a setback mid-season. He’s a horse with a big engine and stepping up to three miles will hopefully bring out the best in him.”
Gordon Elliott fields two Cheltenham Festival winners in opposition with Pertemps Final scorer Delta Work and Martin Pipe hero Blow By Blow. He also saddles Lackaneen Leader.