Joseph O’Brien is looking forward to seeing Le Richebourg put his unbeaten record over fences on the line in the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.
The JP McManus-owned five-year-old mixed it with the best in the novice hurdling division last season and was fifth in the Galway Hurdle on his most recent outing over the smaller obstacles.
He made a smart start to his chasing career at Listowel in September and after following up in impressive style in a Tipperary Grade Three, he is well fancied to complete the hat-trick when stepping up to Grade One level on Sunday.
“His couple of runs over fences have been very good. Obviously he’s been running on nice ground, which he seems to handle quite well,” said O’Brien, who has his string in tremendous form.
“He’s well since his win in Tipperary and this has been the plan since then.
“A lot of people are waiting for a bit of juice in the ground – it’s hard to believe it’s still good this far into the National Hunt season.
“But I suppose it’s to this fellow’s advantage so far as he likes a bit of nice ground – we’ll be keeping to good ground as far as possible through the winter.
“When the rain comes there’ll be no shortage of it, I imagine.”
Gordon Elliott has saddled four of the last eight winners of this contest, with Jessies Dream (2010), subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack (2013), the ill-fated No More Heroes (2015) and Death Duty (2017) all on the roll of honour.
The Cullentra handler is well represented in this year’s renewal, with Cheltenham Festival winners Blow By Blow and Delta Work joined by stablemate Cubomania.
Elliott said: “We run three in it and it’s probably fair to say Delta Work looks the pick of them.
“The more rain that falls the better for him, but he’s in good form.”
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle winner Blow By Blow – who made a winning debut over fences at Galway before being narrowly beaten by Some Neck in the Florida Pearl Novice Chase at Punchestown a fortnight ago – is fitted with a visor for the first time.
Delta Work won the Pertemps Final at Prestbury Park in March and made a solid if unspectacular start to his chasing career at Down Royal.
Blow By Blow, Delta Work and Henry de Bromhead’s Mind’s Eye all carry the colours of Gigginstown House Stud and racing manager Eddie O’Leary said: “Delta Work is a nice horse and hopefully he’ll go well again.
“Mind’s Eye is a nice, fine big horse, hopefully he’ll run well.
“Blow By Blow is a big, lazy, idle devil, hopefully he wakes up a little bit.”
Willie Mullins relies on Cadmium, who has won four of his nine starts over fences for the Supreme Horse Racing Club.
He landed the Grade Three Buck House Novice Chase at Punchestown on his penultimate start before returning to the track to finish third behind stablemate Voix Du Reve in the two-mile Craddockstown Novice Chase.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “He’s as fit as a fiddle and has been running well all year.
“It’s a Grade One, so he needs to step up, but he has a lot of experience and I think that will stand to him.
“Stepping up to two and a half miles could suit.”
Discorama steps up in class after winning on his chasing debut at Naas for Paul Nolan.
Nolan said: “He’s in good form and we’re happy to let him to take his chance.
“He needs to step up a good bit on what he’s done so far, but it’s a nice race and we’re hoping he’ll run respectably.
“I’m glad they’ve had a bit of rain. We’d prefer a bit more, to be honest, as he has form on heavy ground, but so long as it’s safe we’ll give it a go and we’ll see how we get on.”
Jetz (Jessica Harrington), Rashaan (Colin Kidd), Dawn Shadow (Dot Love) and High Nellie (Michael Bowe) complete the field.