Hurricane Fly will face just four rivals as he aims to regain his crown in the Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday.
The 2011 Champion Hurdle hero missed the first half of last season with injury, but following a scintillating comeback in the Irish Champion Hurdle, he was odds-on to strike gold again at Cheltenham in March.
However, he was beaten into third in a lacklustre display and although he did sign off with victory at Punchestown, he headed into the new campaign with questions to answer. Willie Mullins' stable star travelled with far more zest when making a winning return in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown last month and will be odds-on to follow up this weekend.
The champion trainer also saddles the consistent Thousand Stars, while the main threat from outside the yard is the Dermot Weld-trained mare Unaccompanied, winner of this Grade One prize 12 months ago.
Eddie Harty's veteran Captain Cee Bee and rank outsider Tilabay complete the line-up.
Mullins is pleased with Hurricane Fly's condition going into his latest assignment as he aims to make it five wins from five starts at Leopardstown.
"He's in good form, I'm very pleased with him at home at the moment," said Mullins.
"Leopardstown is a track we know he likes, he's won there on all sorts of ground, so we'll see what happens. We'll get it out of the way before we make plans for the rest of the season."
Thousand Stars failed to fire on his seasonal reappearance at Tipperary in October but the champion trainer believes his grey is in better form now.
He added: "I just hadn't been that happy with him going into the Tipperary race, but I think he is starting to come back to himself. He has run well at Leopardstown before and the ground should be all right for him. I decided to stick to two miles with him rather than run him in the three-mile race (Christmas Hurdle)."
30 June 2015Time makes all the right moves
Canadian dream for Odeliz
Ground to dictate plans for Ribbons
Walsh remembers 'heavyweight' Kauto
Queen possible for Godolphin debut
Towcester chief facing BHA charges
Intilaaq in line for return
Down Royal proud to have seen Kauto
McCoy salutes 'amazing' Kauto
Nicholls leads Kauto tributes
Nicholls leads Kauto tributes
Sad end for super Star
Star put down after paddock fall
Doyle keen on Beau chance
Pontefract firsts for Hannon
Horn long odds-on for Eclipse
Frustration continues for Tudhope
Globetrotting Glance retired
Package heads for retirement
Falmouth caution for Integral
Stars on Leger course
Chase set for drop in class
Vintage option for Sails
29 June 2015France for Force
Karpino King George plans on hold
Firecrown out for compensation
Prat possible for Estidhkaar
Lowther in Lady's sights
Bay bypasses Eclipse date
Beach life suits red-hot Heffernan
Forever foxes sprint rivals
Diamond sparkles in Pretty Polly
Treve too good at Saint-Cloud
Aquam impresses on debut
Pilot leaves rivals toiling
Kodi has Jean Prat option
Aeolus given French targets
Ervedya to face her elders
28 June 2015Aquam impresses on debut
Aktabantay in Jean Prat mix
Believe seeking redemption
'Positive' signs for Creighton
Law ready to Rock at the Curragh
Jack's the lad for Curragh glory
Hughes reveals training ambition
O'Neill continues in fine form
Cliffs on track in Railway
Nicholls' Debt takes Celebration
Fab four for Doyle
Byron back with a bang
Quest for Plate ends in victory
Aeolus in Chipchase surprise
27 June 2015Markaz makes his mark
Diamond sparkles in Empress
Choir hits right note at Newmarket
Cookie out of Plate
Strong British raid on Pretty Polly
Lancaster aim for Mustadeem
Creighton in induced coma
Winston hoping for swift return
Grant recovering after Curragh fall
Winston taken to hospital
O'Brien pleased with Curragh ground
Buratino on path to Phoenix
Combat primed for Criterion
Wachman hopes to be sitting Pretty
Treve all set to star on Sunday
Danzeno defends Chipchase crown
Hopeful Niven to check Plate ground
Island out for Railway success