Apple’s Jade and Buveur D’Air are among 16 entries for the Betway Aintree Hurdle on Thursday.
The Gordon Elliott-trained Apple’s Jade was the marginal favourite for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham earlier this month, after completing a Grade One hat-trick with a scintillating display in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.
However, the star mare blotted her copybook at Prestbury Park – finishing only sixth – and will line up with something to prove if she travels to Merseyside next week. Elliott has also entered Samcro, not seen since disappointing at Leopardstown.
Nicky Henderson’s Buveur D’Air was bidding to become the sixth horse in history to win three Champion Hurdles, but only made it as far as the third flight before coming to grief – the first fall of his 17-race jumping career.
He will bid to bounce back in a two-and-a-half-mile contest he won two years ago.
Willie Mullins has given the option to high-class mare Benie Des Dieux, dual Champion Hurdle runner-up Melon and Stayers’ Hurdle third Faugheen.
Other contenders include Harry Fry’s If The Cap Fits, Jessica Harrington’s Supasundae and the Evan Williams-trained Silver Streak.
Twelve entries have been received for the Betway Bowl, the big chase on the opening day of the Grand National meeting.
Nigel Twiston-Davies is set to saddle his Cheltenham Gold Cup third Bristol De Mai after connections decided against running in the Randox Health Grand National under top-weight.
Paul Nicholls has entered Gold Cup fifth Clan Des Obeaux and while Colin Tizzard will not run last year’s Gold Cup hero and this year’s fourth, Native River, he could saddle Elegant Escape and Sizing Granite.
Mullins – who won the Gold Cup with Al Boum Photo – is set to rely on Kemboy, who was the shortest-priced of his four runners in the blue riband but unseated his rider shortly after the very first fence.
He is part of a strong Irish challenge that also includes Noel Meade’s pair of Road To Respect and Tout Est Permis.
Road To Respect was last seen finishing third in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, while Tout Est Permis is three from three this season, completing his hat-trick in a Grade Two at Thurles in January.
Meade said: “It’s definitely the plan to run one of them and at the moment it’s probably looking like Road To Respect. No definite decision has been made at this stage.
“Road To Respect came out of Cheltenham in great form and three miles on a flat track should suit him.”
The first of four Grade Ones is the Manifesto Novices’ Chase, in which Warren Greatrex’s La Bague Au Roi is set to be the star attraction.
The eight-year-old is unbeaten in four starts over fences and connections deliberately sidestepped to Cheltenham to wait for Aintree.
Her potential rivals include the Philip Hobbs-trained JLT Novices’ Chase hero Defi Du Seuil, Amy Murphy’s Kalashnikov and the Irish-trained pair of Elliott’s Mengli Khan and Joseph O’Brien’s Us And Them.
Top-level honours are also up for grabs in the Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle.
O’Brien has Supreme Novices’ Hurdle fourth Fakir D’Oudairies and Fred Winter victor Band Of Outlaws in contention, while Henderson’s Pentland Hills will bid to follow up his Festival victory in the Triumph Hurdle.