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."
2 July 2015Magnificent seven for Elliott
Pendleton thrilled with first ride
Balding hoping for Park August run
Kirby unscathed in house fire
Pilot charters path to York
Provenance has claims on Sandown
Soapy out to slay Dragon rivals
Creighton discharged from hospital
Spencer rides Gatsby in Eclipse
Postulation checks in at Belmont
Space considered for Ascot return
Charming thoughts turn to Doncaster
Deauville date for Diamond
Mecca's takes Thirsk honours
Dods waits on Angel decision
Soumillon takes Certain ride
Mile on Spear radar
September aim for Tryster
Cup aim for Arab
Time out for Hannon aces
Close encounter excites Doyle
Island to drop in grade
1 July 2015Muir keeps faith with Baz
Lynam ponders dual July raid
Geraghty targets weekend return
Pendleton swaps saddles at Newbury
Latharnach given Goodwood aim
More Stewart woe for Lynam
Time makes all the right moves
Canadian dream for Odeliz
Ground to dictate plans for Ribbons
Walsh remembers 'heavyweight' Kauto
Queen possible for Godolphin debut
Intilaaq in line for return
McCoy salutes 'amazing' Kauto
Nicholls leads Kauto tributes
Star put down after paddock fall
30 June 2015Towcester chief facing BHA charges
Down Royal proud to have seen Kauto
Nicholls leads Kauto tributes
Sad end for super Star
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