Last year's Champion Hurdle hero Rock On Ruby heads a small but select field of just four runners in the 32Red Hurdle at Doncaster.
Impressive Christmas Hurdle winner Darlan and Countrywide Flame, winner of the Triumph and Fighting Fifth Hurdles, add plenty of spice to a Listed contest run on a card added by the British Horseracing Authority last week following the spate of recent abandonments.
Completing the quartet is Clerk's Choice, who is no slouch and was sixth to Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival.
Harry Fry is delighted to get a second run of the campaign into Rock On Ruby before he defends his crown next month.
"At the beginning of the week we were thinking Wincanton or not running at all but we definitely wanted a run, if we could, between now and March," the Dorset trainer told www.stanjames.com.
"The ground is drying there all the time so it's a great opportunity, timing-wise, to get a run in before March. It'll take him to the next level and put the extra edge on him that he needs to be in with a chance of retaining his crown.
"You'd have to say a trial race isn't really going to be run to our strengths, whereas a strong out-and-out gallop like in the Champion Hurdle will be.
"You can get a bit of a dawdle to begin with and it can turn into a sprint. Obviously we'll be trying make sure that doesn't happen, but we could end up doing all the donkey work, which we know isn't our forte.
"With the speed Darlan showed in the Christmas Hurdle, you'd have to say the ball's in his court. Countrywide Flame's no mug either, especially on what he did at Newcastle in the soft. It's certainly going to be an informative race and we're looking forward to running.
"Schooling went well on Thursday with Noel (Fehily). He came down and sat on him and was very happy, so we're full of confidence."
24 November 2014Sacre not guaranteed for Sandown
Tower 'sore' after Navan spill
Hobbs upbeat about Fingal raid
Spirit ensures more Henderson woe
Walsh praise for Vautour
Walsh cool on Faugheen odds
Fry keen for crack at Tolworth
Victory team on weather watch
New relief for Twiston-Davies
Midnight to stay over hurdles
Creek seeking Hennessy Gold
Nicholls planning dual George raid
Leather in fine form ahead of Cup
Dynaste team consider George run
Topper target hinges on ground
Followme poised for Drinmore date
Balbriggan lands Troytown gamble
Vautour impresses on chasing debut
Un De Sceaux set for Thurles
Melodic team face tough choice
Henderson aims at Listed prize
Croco in frame for Topham
Deputy in Kempton firing line
McBratney banks on Boy progress
23 November 2014Balbriggan all the way
Vautour off to impressive start
Belle set for hurdling campaign
Silvi scraps to Betfair glory
Bally sparkles on Mullins' big day
Kelly's a Fixed Brush hero
Faugheen turns on the style
Fenton banned for three years
Amlin double for fab Ferof
New One excels in Haydock romp
Flyer grounds Ascot rivals
Vasco a cut above opposition
22 November 2014Conti strikes Betfair Chase gold
Taken seeking Listed gold
Mogol facing Monksfield test
Vautour makes chasing bow
Gordon enjoys Dundalk spin
McCoy: Landmark swayed judgment
Jacob warms up with brace
Hill peaking for Troytown return
Billy back on winning track
Walsh back for Ferof ride
New ready for Haydock Rush
Cheltenham is Big aim
Mullins eager for Faugheen run
Cue primed for Betfair defence
21 November 2014Geraghty snapped up for Seuil
Volnay aiming for quick repeat
Argocat camp play it cool
Leading Light retired
Frankel filly breaks Irish record
Linton loses Listed place
Doubles for Pipe and Scudamore
Nasty spill for Insole
McCoy targets midweek return
Farm comes Home to roost at Thurles
Flemenstar future dictated by scan
Cue lined up for Haydock return