Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs are the star names among nine runners in a fantastic renewal of the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on Friday.
Flemenstar was one of Ireland's leading novice chasers last term and has carried on his progression this season. He made a winning return over two miles before slamming previously unbeaten chaser Sir Des Champs in the two-and-a-half-mile John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.
The pair lock horns again in the feature event of the Christmas Festival, but this time the distance is three miles, which is further than Flemenstar has gone before under Rules.
Trainer Peter Casey said: "He's all ready to go. Everything is grand. He did a nice bit of work the other day. This is his big test and at quarter past three (on Friday) we'll know a lot more about where we're going. I think there is a lot of rain coming in, but I'm not worried about that - the ground makes no difference to him.
"At the moment I'm not worrying about any of the other horses in the race. I'm very happy with our horse and you've just got to go and take your chance. We'll either come home disappointed or delighted."
Andrew Lynch has been ever present in the saddle during Flemenstar's career over fences, and said: "I gave him a breeze the other day and he seems in good form. With the trip you never know for sure until you try, but he gives you every impression he'll stay.
"It's a very good race. First Lieutenant, Sir Des Champs, Tidal Bay, Quito De La Roque - they are all good horses. We'll decide what way we'll ride him nearer the time, but he's a very straightforward horse to ride."
Tidal Bay appears as good as ever this season, despite officially turning 12 next week. After making a winning return to action over hurdles at Wetherby, he ran a superb race to finish second behind Bobs Worth under top weight in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.
The Paul Nicholls-trained veteran is joined on the trip from Britain by Neil Mulholland's stable star Midnight Chase, while Mouse Morris saddles Hennessy third First Lieutenant and China Rock, the latter making his first appearance since winning the Punchestown Gold Cup in the spring.
Shark Hanlon's progressive Hidden Cyclone adds further strength in depth. Pandorama has his first start since the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup, while Quito De La Roque completes the stellar field.
22 July 2014Queen's Estimate tests positive
Moonlight shines at Musselburgh
Taghrooda could go off favourite
Signal pointed at Phoenix
Course specialist in Ascot return
Bary plots Arc route for Spiritjim
Charlton weighs up Kazeem options
Strangeway targets Galway riches
Grade One status for Mares' event
Halford retains Certerach faith
Varian seeking York glory
HRI unveil 2015 plans
Buick on Ascot weather watch
High hopes for Odeliz
Minella to take Plate test
Scudamore banned for course blunder
Toscanini team mull options
Faydhan team in no rush
Fast Kaar given Dewhurst target
Pique Sous confirmed for Galway
Hannon team cool on Nunthorpe bid
Channon excited by Amralah progress
Haggas expects Hanagan to ride Tag
21 July 2014Ebor the Clever choice for Cookie
Deauville mission for Fiesolana
Chicquita in Yorkshire Oaks frame
Magical Moore shines again
Kool result for Hannon
Guest considers Memory options
Euro stays with Botti
Ascot on Moohaarib agenda
Injury blow for Boistron team
Encke set for Glorious return
No hurry for Tiggy target
No rush for East aim
20 July 2014Sous heads Galway Hurdle betting
McCoy savours overtaking Pipe
Bracelet glitters in Irish Oaks
Whittington pounces in Anglesey
Music masters Hackwood rivals
Dazzling Tiggy in Nunthorpe frame
Gutsy Ansgar makes all
India too hot in Curragh opener
Fourth for Kazeem on return
Kosika crushes Newbury rivals
19 July 2014Bracelet glitters in Irish Oaks
It's a day to remember for McCoy
It's a Rasen Gimme for McCoy
Super-sonic display from Tiggy
Bay bounds clear for Summer spoils
Sunshine at last at Rasen
Storms force Market Rasen delay
Lady bids to bow out on a high
Ansgar takes Minstrel chance
Newsletter out to deliver
Cox pair take Super challenge
Kazeem on the comeback trail
Tennant sitting on big Rasen prize
Newland seeks easy Pickens at Rasen
Realtra camp have Sprint concern
Tarfasha team hopeful of home win