Willie Mullins admits it is impossible to choose between Blood Cotil and Diakali as his two star four-year-olds lock horns in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Blood Cotil bolted up on his Irish debut at Fairyhouse in November and was a comfortable winner of a Grade Two over this weekend's course and distance over Christmas, while Diakali has been similarly impressive on his two appearances at Gowran and Punchestown.
Mullins said: "The handicapper has them on identical ratings (140) and it is very difficult to choose between them. Even in the yard here we have Diakali fans and Blood Cotil fans, so it will be interesting to find out which is better. You don't mind running them against each other so much in Grade One races."
The biggest threat to the duo is perhaps the Dessie Hughes-trained Our Conor, a winner at Navan and Fairyhouse over timber so far.
Hughes said: "He's fit and well and hopefully he'll run a big race. I think they are calling the ground on the hurdle track soft, yielding in places, and I'd say that will be the best ground he has run on over hurdles so far. That will suit him.
"It's a nice race, as you would expect for a Grade One, and I'm sure we'll all learn a lot."
John Ferguson's British raider Ruacana is also unbeaten in two jumping starts and has already struck at the highest level, having landed Chepstow's Finale Hurdle a month ago.
Ferguson said: "He's a Grade One winner already so you are limited as to where you can go with a horse like that. He's as tough as teak, he's in great form and I'm hoping he'll put up a good display."
Gordon Elliott's Flaxen Flare was some 28 lengths behind Diakali at Punchestown last month, but the trainer is hoping a sounder surface can help his charge get closer this time around.
Elliott said: "He's in good form, but it's a very competitive race and the more the ground dries out the better for him. The ground was very soft the last day at Punchestown and it didn't suit him. He wants better ground."
25 September 2016Ed Dunlop plays the long game with Red Verdon
Richard Fahey retains faith in vanquished Frankel filly Queen Kindly
One-mile race at Salisbury in jeopardy on Wednesday
Wesley Ward finds possible reason for Lady Aurelia Newmarket reverse
Owen Burrows calls time on Massaat season
Henry de Bromhead has chasing in mind for Identity Thief
Ed Vaughan heads to Ascot with Mehronissa
Arc favourite Postponed pleases in Saturday workout
Spark Plug fires up for Cambridgeshire glory at Newmarket
The Last Lion sparks Group One celebrations for birthday boy Joe Fanning
Cheveley Park first for Aidan O'Brien as Brave Anna tops Lady Aurelia
Hugo Palmer has Derby dream for Best Of Days
Paul Hanagan speculation news to me - Angus Gold
Capri leads Aidan O'Brien's four-strong challenge on Beresford heat
Perle De La Mer seeks to sparkle in Park Stakes date
Forgotten Rules aiming to issue Loughbrown reminder
24 September 2016Waterlogging claims Roscommon card
Hugo Palmer retains faith in Escobar despite Newmarket eclipse
No retirement plans for Gordon Lord Byron ahead of Renaissance run
Jack Kennedy sidelined after Downpatrick fall
Fair Eva grounded by French flyer Spain Burg
Cougar Mountain peaks at Newmarket for Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore
Newmarket winner Journey takes familiar route towards Ascot
John Gosden has the last Laugh at Newmarket
Bronze Angel bids for third Cambridgeshire gold in vintage renewal
Best Of Days and Hugo Palmer ready for Royal rumble at Newmarket
Blue Point and Mehmas face Middle Park rematch
Wesley Ward expecting Lady Aurelia to show her best in Cheveley Park test
Colm Murphy announces shock retirement news
23 September 2016Jack Kennedy hospitalised after Downpatrick fall
Fair Eva outgunned by Spain Burg in Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket
Aidan O'Brien fields four as he seeks another Beresford success
Joseph O'Brien eyeing Breeders' Cup bid with Intricately
Moon Racer comes out on top in Perth battle of Champion Bumper winners
Justice Belle shines as gallant Seamour second again
Ground means German raid scrapped for Hawkbill
'Guineas horse' Larchmont Lad too good in Tattersalls Stakes
Eminent performance from Frankel newcomer at Newmarket
Joel Stakes regular Custom Cut bidding for more Newmarket glory
Seventh furlong expected to help Fair Eva in Rockfel challenge
Charlie Appleby gives Blue Point the chance to shine in Middle Park at Newmarket
Lady Aurelia spearheads Cheveley Park sextet at Newmarket
22 September 2016Alterations announced to Weight For Age Scale
Aidan O'Brien fires twin assault at Royal Lodge at Newmarket
'Disappointed' Johnny Murtagh rules Eddystone Rock out of Cambridgeshire
Gary Moore considers Tingle Creek onslaught with stable stars
Sir Michael Stoute considers Lingfield Listed challenge for prolific Dubka
Frankel colt Atty Persse makes Godolphin switch
John Gosden warns favourite Sacred Act unlikely to take Cambridgeshire chance
Sky Hunter books Melbourne ticket with Foundation success
The Gurkha retired to Coolmore in 2017
Adrian Heskin makes winning start to new rider role with Tom George
Psychedelic Funk ruled out of Middle Park run following gallops injury
Brian Ellison seeking Seamour success in Bowl test
Hathal bypasses Joel option in favour of French outing
Moon Racer and Ballyandy clash over hurdles at Perth
Hugo Palmer in bullish mood as Escobar set Newmarket poser