Gordon Elliott’s Champagne Classic makes his seasonal reappearance at Tipperary on Sunday as he contests the Grade Three Like A Butterfly Novice Chase.
Dry weather meant the eight-year-old only ran twice last season, although he placed on both occasions in Graded novice chases.
Prior to that the gelding had enjoyed a successful hurdling campaign, culminating in victories in both the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and the Grade One Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.
“He spent a long time off after winning the Grade One novice hurdle at Punchestown a few years ago,” Elliott told Betfair.
“But he showed that he retained his ability when reaching the frame in a couple of Graded novice chases last season.
“He was one that probably wasn’t suited by the dry winter last season as we only got a couple of runs into him, but hopefully we will enjoy a full campaign with him this time.”
The two-mile-four-furlong contest is intended to be a stepping stone for the Gigginstown-owned gelding, with the National Hunt Chase the ultimate aim.
“The hope is that he could make up into a horse for the four-miler at Cheltenham,” Elliot said in reference to the race, although the distance has now been shortened to three miles and six furlongs.
Willie Mullins’ Robin De Carlow lines up in the same race after staying in training over the summer.
The six-year-old was beaten in a novice chase at Killarney last time out, finishing three lengths behind stablemate Brahma Bull who holds an entry for the same race at Tipperary.
Jim Balfry, racing manager for owners Supreme Horse Racing, said: “She has to turn the form around with Brahma Bull, but she is in good form.
“It looks a strong race, but she is very consistent and hopefully she will get some more black type.”
Alongside Robin De Carlow and Brahma Bull, Mullins also runs six-year-old Dandy Mag, winner of a beginners’ chase at Galway in August.
Henry De Bromhead is represented by Moon Over Germany and Put The Kettle On, who both enter the race in winning form.
Moon Over Germany was victorious over fences at Ballinrobe in August, while Put The Kettle On is enjoying a four-race winning streak.
Joseph O’Brien’s Grey Waters makes up the field after unseating JJ Slevin at Roscommon on her last appearance.
A mixed card of both flat and jumps races, the highlight on the level is the Group Three Coolmore Stud Home Of Champions Concorde Stakes.
Sheila Lavery’s Quizical takes his chance, having carried AP McCoy to victory in the Pat Smullen Champions Race For Cancer Trials Ireland last month.
Aside from the victory under McCoy, Lavery’s four-year-old gelding has yet to win this season, but is likely to enjoy testing ground.
“He’s in good form,” Lavery said.
“He’d be 10lb out on some horses running, but he should love the ground.
“It’s a mixed race, there’s a couple of 100 (rated) horses and a couple at his rating, so it just comes down to who handles the ground.”