Willie Mullins sends both Bachasson and Coquin Mans into battle for the Ladbrokes Ireland Boyne Hurdle at Navan on Sunday.
Bachasson earned himself a shot at Cheltenham Gold Cup glory at Prestbury Park last March after winning successive Listed prizes over fences at Thurles at Tramore – but only made it as far as the second fence before coming to grief.
He reverted to the smaller obstacles on his only previous start this season – running out an impressive winner of a conditions event at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve – and sticks to hurdles for this weekend’s Grade Two contest.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “Bachasson was very good in Punchestown. He was getting 8lb from the second and third that day, but it was still a good performance.
“He’s a very talented horse who has won four of his last five races and hurdles and fences seem to come alike to him.”
Coquin Mans is rated 11lb superior to his stablemate, but will need to raise his game after finishing down the field in last month’s Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park.
Mullins added: “Coquin Mans probably needed the run badly in Gowran. It was his first run since pulling up in Auteuil last May and we’d be expecting a much improved performance on Sunday.
“He has a 5lb penalty to carry, but still comes out on top on the ratings.
“If he runs up to his mark, he should be hard beat and if he doesn’t, Bachasson looks a very able deputy.”
Gordon Elliott fires a three-pronged assault, with last season’s Grand National hero Tiger Roll joined by the 14-year-old Bless The Wings and Cracking Smart, who finished tailed off behind esteemed stable companion Apple’s Jade in Leopardstown’s Christmas Hurdle last time out.
“Tiger Roll is a stable favourite and for him to win the Grand National was something else,” said Elliott.
“His Gold Cup this year is going to be the cross-country at Cheltenham and if he gets back for the Grand National then great. Whatever happens, happens – he doesn’t owe us anything.
“He’s in very good form and he and Bless The Wings will run on Sunday to get them ready for the cross-country Cheltenham.”
He added: “Cracking Smart had an operation for kissing spines and got very tired in Leopardstown.
“He has worked well since, but he’s going to have to improve a lot on his last run.”
The six-strong field is completed by the Charles Byrnes-trained Off You Go, who was last seen winning the valuable Ladbrokes Hurdle at Leopardstown for the second year in succession.
Grade Two honours are also up for grabs in the Ladbrokes Acca Boosty Ten Up Novice Chase.
Elliott saddles both Blow By Blow and Champagne Classic, with the latter particularly interesting having shaped with plenty of promise on his return from a near two-year absence when third in a Grade Three at Naas three weeks ago.
“Champagne Classic will run in the Ten Up Novice Chase. It’s a good race and if he wins it would be grand, but the way his season has gone, if he ends up a novice at the end of the season, it’s not the end of the world,” Elliott added.
“I thought he ran very well in Naas and he just got a bit tired.”
Agent Boru (Tom Gibney), Any Second Now (Ted Walsh), Chris’s Dream (Henry de Bromhead) and Moonshine Bay (Jessica Harrington) are the other hopefuls.