Leading Racing Post Arkle hopes Lalor and Dynamite Dollars are among 31 contenders for the Cheltenham Festival event.
Already old rivals, after a win each in their two clashes to date this season, Kayley Woollacott’s Lalor and Paul Nicholls’ Dynamite Dollars are joined by Kalashnikov – from Amy Murphy’s yard – as possibles for the two-mile Grade One on March 12.
Leopardstown winner Le Richebourg is an eyecatching name for Joseph O’Brien, one of 18 Irish entries in the Arkle – along with 29 of 52 in the JLT Novices’ Chase on March 14, and 19 of 48 in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase the previous day.
Ireland’s great hope Delta Work, representing Gordon Elliott’s stable and powerful owners Gigginstown House Stud, is in line to take on a home contingent led by Nicky Henderson’s Santini and Nicholls’ Topofthegame in the staying novice championship.
Colin Tizzard’s Lostinstranslation has headed the JLT market since his win in the Grade Two BetBright Dipper Novices’ Chase over the same near two-and-a-half-mile course on New Year’s Day.
Tizzard said: “Lostintranslation came out of Cheltenham very well.
“He is a big-framed horse that is learning all the time. He is improving with every race and is going to keep improving over time.
“He will step up in trip next year, but he won’t this year. (Jockey) Robbie Power is adamant that two and a half miles is a good trip for him at the moment.”
The seven-year-old may head first to Sandown’s Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase next month, his trainer confirmed.
Among his possible opponents back at Cheltenham are Irish-trained pair Winter Escape, formerly with Alan King in Wiltshire but flourishing in the care of Aidan Howard, and Henry de Bromhead’s Cheveley Park Stud-owned A Plus Tard.
Warren Greatrex’s mare La Bague Au Roi – winner of the Kauto Star Novice Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day in front of Topofthegame and Santini, and due to head across the Irish Sea to the Dublin Racing Festival next – has an option in both the JLT and over three miles in the RSA.
Kim Bailey’s unbeaten Vinndication is another three-mile entry, along with Henderson’s Mr Whipped.
McManus is the most successful owner in the history of the National Hunt Chase, with six victories – and as well as Ok Corral, he has Glenloe among his eight entries this time.
There are a total of 68 possibles for the National Hunt Chase – including 25 from Ireland.