John Smith's Grand National ante-post favourite Prince De Beauchene will face six rivals as he goes for back-to-back victories in the At The Races Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse.
The Willie Mullins-trained 10-year-old was a hugely impressive winner of one of Ireland's biggest National trials 12 months ago, but an injury suffered during the race ruled him out of a trip to Aintree.
He appeared as good as ever when winning on his seasonal reappearance over hurdles at Limerick in December.
Among his Bobbyjo rivals is Ted Walsh's Seabass, who ran a superb race under the trainer's daughter Katie when third in last year's Grand National. He ran well over hurdles at Fairyhouse on his return earlier this month and aims to enhance his own Aintree claims.
Mullins, who won the Bobbyjo and the National with Hedgehunter in 2005, said of Prince De Beauchene: "He won last year and came into the winner's enclosure 100%, but by the time he got back up to the veterinary unit he was lame and he just got lamer and lamer.
"He pulled some type of ligament or something, and I hope he can get through that this year.
"He had a nice run over hurdles down in Limerick and was fine afterwards, so let's get the Bobbyjo out of the way and then look to Aintree. The way he did it at Limerick did surprise me a bit, but he had been working well at home."
Should Prince De Beauchene make the trip to Merseyside in April, he will have to carry the not inconsiderable burden off 11st 3lb, but the champion trainer is not overly concerned.
"He's got plenty of weight but he's a huge horse and built to carry it," Mullins told At The Races.
"Taking last year into account, I'm happy if I get him there. I don't want any last-minute problems. He's one to look forward to with his style of jumping and the size and scope that he has."
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