Old rivals Notebook and Fakir D’oudairies head 38 entries for the Racing Post Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.
The pair clashed in the Grade One novice chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting, with Henry de Bromhead’s Notebook beating the Joseph O’Brien-trained Fakir D’oudairies by a length and half.
Willie Mullins has seven possibles, including Melon, Royal Rendezvous and Cash Back, the latter a winner of both his starts over fences at Navan and Naas, while Samcro is one of three from the Gordon Elliott stable.
Among the home team are the Olly Murphy-trained duo of Brewin’upastorm and Itchy Feet, Evan Williams’ Esprit Du Large and Ben Pauling’s Global Citizen.
Pauling said: “Global Citizen jumped well and won nicely at Kempton, and the plan now is to head straight to Cheltenham for the Arkle.
“He is at his best when he is fresh, so we will just keep him ticking over between now and then.
“I think spring ground and him being fresh will be to his advantage and I would be hopeful of an exciting performance from him in March.”
The Mullins-trained Faugheen, De Bromhead’s Minella Indo and Nicky Henderson’s Champ, together with Colin Tizzard’s Slate House, are among 53 entries for the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase.
Matthew Smith is keeping his options open for Ronald Pump, giving him entries in the RSA and the National Hunt Chase as well as the Stayers’ Hurdle.
The seven-year-old has been running over fences and hurdles this term and will revert to the bigger obstacles at Naas on Sunday.
Smith said: “Ronald Pump appears to be in great form and will run in the three-mile Grade Three novice chase at Naas on Sunday.
“I am waiting to see how he gets on at Naas before we decide what do at Cheltenham, as he will want to be going well there if he is to be running over fences at the Festival.”
There are a record 71 entries in the Marsh Novices’ Chase, formerly known as the JLT Novices’ Chase. They include Samcro, who is also in the Arkle and RSA.
Mullins has 12 entries, featuring Faugheen, Easy Game, Allaho and Laurina.
Mister Fisher, from the Henderson stable and Sue Smith’s Midnight Shadow are among the home team.
Faugheen is also one of 61 possibles for the National Hunt Chase.