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.
28 February 2015Vautour excites Mullins in workout
Festival plans fluid for Cyclone
Elliott posse work at Leopardstown
Geraghty confirmed for Master
Wayward back on right track
Investment gains Greatwood gold
Bal win delights connections
Glinger burns off Kelso rivals
Pipe proves he's a Soll man
Geraghty shines on Leave It
Walter back for another victory
Irish pair do battle in France
Geraghty: Sprinter will be fitter
Wylie lines up Cheltenham team
Twiston-Davies Blak in business
Divine Bishop on Festival trail
Irish duo set Doncaster poser
Night riding high for Grimthorpe
Glingerburn facing another battle
Pipe targets Aintree with veterans
Carlito primed for Kelso return
McCoy not planning Festival goodbye
Bridge camp praying for rain
Cook suspended from riding
27 February 2015Golantilla in Ballsbridge bid
Safety strikes in Zabeel Mile
Fehily confirms Zarkandar mount
Lieutenant bosses Purcell rivals
Dettori delights on Dubday
Many Clouds goes back to school
Maguire loses appeal
New One at ease for Faugheen clash
Foxrock still in Gold Cup picture
Apache ready to take flight in JLT
26 February 2015Higgins back in business
Cookie poised for April return
Silvi threat unsettles Riches camp
No going concerns at Cheltenham
Fry resigned to Fehily Ruby loss
Trip key to Balder success - King
McLernon gets nod for Holywell
Salsify leads Foxhunter field
Mullins unveils Bumper entry
Curtis hoping for Cross revival
Aurore misses Mares' date
25 February 2015Ton-up for in-form Pipe
Big display from George veteran
Credit to join the Premier league
Jack to duck Grimthorpe date
Tea preparing for National tilt
Geraghty rates Whisper World claims
George retains Module faith
Uramazin ready to go again
Coney team wait on Festival call
Aintree on Ceremony agenda
Silvi is all Gold - Nicholls
Bright Clouds gets serious
Puffin swoops at Leicester
Nicholls: Rheu call tough for Sam
Nicholls suffers Hinterland blow
Own on Cheltenham trail
BHA issues new anti-doping rules
Walsh hoping for a Champagne moment
That ruled out of World bid