Hurricane Fly heads a select field of just four runners for Sunday's Dobbins & Madigans At Punchestown Morgiana Hurdle.
Willie Mullins' charge lost his Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham in March but bounced back to winning form at this venue in April. While the champion trainer has not enjoyed an ideal start to the campaign, with a few horses coughing in his yard, he is satisfied Hurricane Fly is fit enough to do himself justice.
"Hurricane Fly worked well the other day and I'm happy with him. I'd imagine Christmas time (would be his next run after the weekend), but we'll try to take one day at a time. We're slow enough getting out this season. We're getting into gear very slowly now," Mullins told At The Races.
"I'm hoping they stay right. A few were coughing. We had to stop for about a fortnight. I just didn't want to work too many of the horses. That held us up a little bit but, fortunately, it seemed to be the fillies that got sick. One or two of the horses did, but I think that's all gone out of the yard now.
"If we can just keep them right I'd be hoping for the best."
The fact Go Native is even competing in Grade One races again is testament to his trainer Noel Meade. He was sent off favourite for the 2010 Champion Hurdle but sustained an injury and did not return until October, when third in a Flat race, after which he bolted up in a similar event at Galway.
"He seems very well, so we'll have a go at a Grade One. I've been very happy with him at home, and I hope he keeps on improving as he did from his first race back to his second. He was very good the last day but we could do without the rain," said County Meath-based Meade.
Captain Cee Bee has been enjoying something of a resurgence since reverting to hurdles. The Eddie Harty-trained 11-year-old turned in an excellent effort when third in the Galway Hurdle in August before claiming Grade Two glory at Tipperary last month.
"It's a competitive enough race with Hurricane Fly and Go Native in there. They will be hard to beat, but our horse is in good form and he won well in Tipperary last time. He's been a great horse for us over the years. We think he will run well and give a good account of himself," said Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus.
Dermot Weld's classy dual-purpose runner Unaccompanied completes the Morgiana line-up.
21 October 2014Moore concedes title to Hughes
Connell turns to Heskin
Integral to race on next year
Meade maps out gameplan for stars
Pele poised to tackle Hennessy
O'Neill sure of Taquin redemption
Heron seeking Great prize
Court to go on Trial
Saviour blow for Skelton
Dan makes chase debut
Moore waits on Grugy decision
O'Neill outlines That choices
Conn possible for Auction bid
Power team weigh up options
Bangor cancel schooling card
No rushing back for Long Run
Dynaste leads Old Roan contenders
Grands Crus retired
Exciting Berlais heads to Chepstow
Force handed Hong Kong mission
Park favourite for Trophy hunt
Al Kazeem team eye Hong Kong trip
Commemorative bound for Breeders'
Slade eyeing victorious swansong
20 October 2014Chelmsford City handed 58 fixtures
Alderwood to take two-mile test
Dynaste leads Old Roan contenders
Hennessy aim for Clouds
Fiesolana on Breeders' trail
High-class possibilities for Trophy
Chelmsford City handed 57 fixtures
French option for Maarek
Billy back for chasing bow
Judge to bid for Breeders' glory
Pipe mulls Moon target
High hopes for Holywell
Judge in Breeders' frame
Hill stars for Stoute and Moore
Gabriel lifts Garnet for Deegan
New One back with a win
Light career hangs in balance
Stars shines on hurdling debut
King big guns ready to start
Tullius camp consider options
Doyle unlikely to appeal Ascot ban
Mullins prepares formidable team
19 October 2014New One breezes to victory
Lavelle has Becher plan for Lodge
Riches heading on road north
Down Royal plan for Tiger
New makes Kempton return
Panther hunting Canadian prize
Sun takes a shine to Cork
Hobbs upholds Showcase record
Another gold strike for Bronze
Gallant Noble a true Champion
Head turns on Charm in QEII
Madame is Ascot leading lady
Forgotten rules for Weld
Byron is poetry in motion
18 October 2014Forgotten rules for Weld
War misses Breeders' date
Rakti reaps Caulfield reward
Chatez bids for Balmoral crown
Lavelle duo top Cheltenham card
Integral takes on the boys
Noble on Champion mission
Belardo a Dewhurst sparkler
Together stands firm for Ballydoyle
Ivawood felled by plucky Thought
Crowley doubles up on Berkshire
Tendon injury sidelines Tent