Dual Cheltenham Festival hero Penhill heads a strong team of seven for Willie Mullins as 12 runners line up for Thursday’s Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown.
Last year he failed to add a Punchestown win to his Albert Bartlett success, but he was ultra-impressive in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham with Mullins expecting him to improve for his first run of the season.
He will be joined by former champion hurdler Faugheen, who steps up in trip to three miles after disappointing in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Another who disappointed last month was Yorkhill while Bacardys, Bleu Et Rouge, Shaneshill and Bapaume all go in search of valuable prize money for the champion trainer as he continues his pursuit of Gordon Elliott.
Elliott runs Diamond Cauchois and Lieutenant Colonel while Warren Greatrex sends over La Bague Au Roi.
Jessica Harrington’s former champion Jezki, who skipped Cheltenham and Aintree, and Henry de Bromhead’s Identity Thief, an easy winner at Aintree when trying the trip for the first time, complete the field.
Only seven go to post for the Ryanair Novice Chase and it all revolves around Mullins’ Arkle winner Footpad.
The Closutton handler also runs Saturnas and Asthuria. The sole British representative is Dan Skelton’s Optimus Prime.
Calino D’Airy, Castlegrace Paddy, and Petit Mouchoir complete the list.