Apple’s Jade will face nine rivals when she bids for a third successive victory in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
Gordon Elliott’s star mare got the better of a thrilling battle with former stable companion Vroum Vroum Mag when striking gold in 2016 and was a hugely impressive winner over the ill-fated Nichols Canyon last season.
Having warmed up for her return to Fairyhouse with victory in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan – just as she did last season – Apple’s Jade is a hot favourite to complete the hat-trick and become the third three-time winner along with Limestone Lad and Solerina.
The six-year-old is just one of four runners for Elliott, along with Dortmund Park, Farclas and Sutton Place.
Willie Mullins – who has saddled three previous winners of the Hatton’s Grace in Hurricane Fly, Zaidpour and Arctic Fire – also fires four bullets, with Bapaume, Shaneshill, Wicklow Brave and Limini all declared.
Jessica Harrington’s Irish Champion Hurdle and Punchestown Champion Hurdle winner Supasundae and the Joseph O’Brien-trained Early Doors complete the field.
The first of three Grade Ones on the afternoon is the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle.
Mullins has claimed this prize on a record seven occasions and runs Aramon and Quick Grabim, who finished first and fourth respectively in the For Auction Novice Hurdle at Navan three weeks ago.
Elliott has declared the exciting Commander Of Fleet and the mare Tintangle, who was a narrow winner at Thurles on Thursday.
O’Brien’s Triplicate – who beat Aramon at Listowel in September but was beaten by Quick Grabim at Tipperary on his latest outing – is the fifth and final runner.
Eleven runners are in contention for the Drinmore Novice Chase.
Cheltenham Festival winners Blow By Blow and Delta Work are joined by stablemate Cubomania in a three-pronged Elliott assault.
Mullins relies on Cadmium – while other contenders include Harrington’s recent winner Jetz, O’Brien’s Le Richebourg and Paul Nolan’s Discorama.
Proceedings get under way with a Grade Three juvenile hurdle, in which Edward O’Grady’s Humaniste and Gavin Cromwell’s Lever Du Soleil look the biggest threats to the Elliott-trained pair of Chief Justice and Coeur Sublime.