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.
29 March 2015Kristale limbers up for York return
Aintree on God's radar
Ferof in hunt for Aintree riches
Telescope back in focus
Clouds given National clearance
Chrome given Royal summons
Flemenstar unplaced on return
Dolniya excels in Sheema Classic
Solow gallops to Turf glory
Gabrial just divine in Lincoln
Naadirr strikes to take Trophy
Sole switches on late power
Tullius has to pull out the stops
Romsdal up and running
Panther pounces for Gold
28 March 2015Prince Bishop rules the World
Prince Bishop rules the World
Raven swoops for De Sousa
Hanagan strikes first blow
Stack harbours Lincoln doubts
Odeliz gears up for Park
Mshawish given green light for Turf
Margarson keeps faith in Guest
Havlin has high hopes with Hopkins
Togo lands another for Pakidis
Longsdon and Fehily rule with Law
Coleman picks up ride on Druids
Power out to end Meydan hoodoo
Jack firmly in Trophy hunt
McCoy honoured with Celebration
O'Brien set on Flat resumption
'Rock star' Chrome seeks World fame
27 March 2015Romsdal returns at Kempton
Solow flying high for Head
All to play for at Doncaster
Flemenstar makes Navan return
Panther primed for big Gold run
Derby Fever for Godolphin
Toast recovering from setback
Motion out to keep winning Sequence
Home comforts at Newbury
Curtis keen on Townend for Tea
Flintham upholds family honour
Newmarket moves to avoid split
Weld sweet on 'middleweight' Zawraq
Eagle poised for Curragh return
Signal to swerve Wetherby gallop
Ballydoyle brigade excites Hensey
Angel leads the way in Lincoln
26 March 2015Sruthan gets Gladness go-ahead
Kelly to contest Wolves ban
Gatsby thrills in Meydan spin
Monaghan on the up
On-song Cappella has Classic aim
Godsmejudge on track for Aintree
Ground key to Found Guineas attempt
Thriving Berkshire Ganay-bound
Gleneagles set for Curragh spin
Ginge handed Topham option
Side sights set on World place
Tizzard 'really pleased' with Card
Limato pencilled in for Ascot
Spinal issue sidelines The New One