Buveur D’Air will face a maximum of seven rivals when he bids for back-to-back wins in the Unibet Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
Nicky Henderson’s dual Champion Hurdle winner looked better when winning his second Fighting Fifth at Newcastle at the start of the month, putting Irish challenger Samcro in his place with a dominant display.
He is already odds-on with most bookmakers to become the first horse since the great Istabraq to win three Champion Hurdles at Cheltenham in March, and he will be a cramped odds to extend his winning sequence on Boxing Day.
Henderson has also entered his high-class mare Verdana Blue, who finished second in a Listed contest on the Flat at Kempton on her latest outing.
Having beaten Samcro at Down Royal in November before missing the Fighting Fifth after suffering a setback, Iain Jardine’s Bedrock would be an interesting contender – although he also has the option of returning to Ireland for the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Ben Pauling has stated his intention to run Global Citizen, who opened his account for the campaign in the Gerry Feilden at Newbury, while the Harry Fry-trained If The Cap Fits could come back in trip after winning the Coral Hurdle at Ascot.
Warren Greatrex’s Boite, the Paul Nicholls-trained Old Guard and Stowaway Magic from Dan Skelton’s yard complete the potential field.
Grade One honours are also up for grabs in the 32Red Kauto Star Novices’ Chase – formerly known as the Feltham.
This three-mile contest has attracted 12 entries after the race was reopened on Monday, with Henderson’s exciting prospect Santini the likely headline act.
The Grade One-winning hurdler looked the part on his chasing debut at Newbury and is set to return to the highest level.
Henderson also has Chef Des Obeaux and Mr Whipped in the mix, while Greatrex could run his prolific mare La Bague Au Roi.
Fry’s Bags Groove and The Worlds End, trained by Tom George, are other possibles in what promises to be a fascinating affair.
The Worlds End is set to make a quicker then planned return following his recent win at Cheltenham.
Owner Max McNeill told Racing UK: “He came out of Cheltenham very well. I spoke to Tom on Thursday and he said he wanted to take the horse to Kempton.
“He only lost four kilos (at Cheltenham) and it was like a racecourse gallop for him.
“He’s only a novice for one season – next season he’ll be taking on the likes of Native River and Might Bite – so why not make hay (this season)?
“The forecast is quite good between now and Boxing Day – the ground is fairly key to him – so we thought we’d give it a go.”