All eyes will be on Tiger Roll as the dual Grand National hero goes for a third successive win in the Glenfarclas Chase at Cheltenham.
The 10-year-old has been campaigned with this unique cross-country test as the first main objective, before his attempt at an unprecedented hat-trick in the world’s greatest steeplechase.
A setback earlier in the season did not interfere too much with his plans for the latter stages of the campaign.
He made a pleasing return to action when fifth to stablemate Cracking Smart in the Grade Two Boyne Hurdle at Navan last month, one which delighted trainer Gordon Elliott.
“I actually thought that, given the ground, he would not run as well as he did, as he had only been back cantering since January 1,” said Elliott, whose diminutive gelding is chasing a remarkable fifth Festival triumph.
“I thought he showed a lot of zest and jumped very well. He looked the winner between the third- and second-last, and then got tired. It was great to see him back and running so well.”
Looking ahead to the Grand National, Elliott feels the odds are stacked against his stable star, who would be only the second three-time winner of the Aintree spectacular after Red Rum – and first to do it in successive seasons.
“We’re very lucky to have a horse like him,” said the County Meath handler.
“The odds are against us in the Grand National – going nearly four and a half miles with X amount of fences and X amount of runners, but if we can get him back to Aintree it will be unbelievable.
“The handicapper did his job and couldn’t do any more than what he did.”
Elliott sees no reason why Tiger Roll cannot return to Cheltenham in 2021.
He added: “If he is one piece, he will stay in training next season and there is no reason why he can’t have a go at the cross-country race again.
“He is 10 years of age and Michael O’Leary (owner) is not buying any more horses, so we need to keep as many of them in as we can!”
David Cottin is looking forward to taming on the legend that is Tiger Roll with Easysland.
The six-year-old made an impressive first visit to British shores with victory over the course and distance in December and he has since been bought by leading owner JP McManus.
“Easysland is very well and I have been delighted with his preparation for the Glenfarclas Chase,” said the French trainer.
“I could not be happier with him and we are looking forward to taking on Tiger Roll – it promises to be a great race.
“Easysland has already won at Cheltenham, which is important, and we are hopeful of another big performance from him.”
McManus also has the classy Yanworth and 2016 winner Josies Orders in the line-up.
The Enda Bolger-trained pair were third and fourth respectively behind Neverushacon at Punchestown. The Jessica Harrington-trained winner also takes his chance.
Emmanuel Clayeux, who trains at Vaumas in central France, sends a three-horse raid with Arlequin D’Allier, Diesel D’Allier and Urgent De Gregaine.
The last two horses were first and second over the course and distance in November.
Might Bite, runner-up in the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup, is an interesting contender for trainer Nicky Henderson as he tries a new discipline after several disappointing runs.