Last year’s winner Doctor Phoenix bids to get his season back on track in the WhatOddsPaddy? Chase at Naas on Sunday.
The 11-year-old enjoyed an excellent campaign last term after being snapped up by the Nick Bradley Racing Club for the relatively modest fee of £10,000 – winning at Cork and the valuable Dan Moore Memorial Chase at Fairyhouse before claiming this Grade Three prize 12 months ago.
Gordon Elliott’s charge has struggled to match those achievements so far this winter, however, most recently finishing seventh when switched back to handicap company at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.
Elliott said: “He’s got entries in a couple of the handicaps at Cheltenham, but we’ll just see how he gets on at Naas first of all.
“He hasn’t reached the heights of last season yet, but he has run some respectable races in good company and I’d say the dry winter hasn’t worked in his favour as a lot of his best form is on soft or heavy ground.
“He’s very well in himself and it’s a nice, small field, so hopefully he will run well.”
The Cullentra handler also saddles Tycoon Prince, and added: “I’m hoping he can get back to the form that saw him finish second to Saint Calvados here earlier in the season.”
Champion trainer Willie Mullins relies on the Supreme Horse Racing Club-owned Cadmium – who was three places ahead of Doctor Phoenix when favourite for the same Leopardstown handicap three weeks ago.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “It’s a tidy race, but it does look a good opportunity for Cadmium – although I’m sure the others are probably thinking the same.
“He’s been running well all season. He’s working well at home and goes into the race in good form.
“With a clear round he should be bang there at the finish.”
Henry de Bromhead has claimed this prize four times in the last six years, with Days Hotel triumphing in 2013, 2014 and 2016 before Alisier D’Irlande struck gold the following year.
He saddles the only other runner this weekend in Avenir D’Une Vie.