Nicky Henderson’s Altior has missed much of the season after undergoing a wind operation in the autumn, but is odds-on across the board to claim his third Festival success following a sparkling reappearance at Newbury last month.
The Willie Mullins-trained Douvan has not been seen in competitive action since suffering a shock defeat and injury in this race a year ago, but as a former winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham – like Altior – he will be a fascinating contender if he returns to Prestbury Park next week.
Whether Douvan makes the journey across the Irish Sea or not, Mullins has confirmed his intention to saddle Min. The seven-year-old was runner-up to Altior in the Supreme two years ago and produced what was arguably his most polished performance over fences to date in the Coral Dublin Chase at Leopardstown last month.
Mullins has also left in Un De Sceaux, although he is more likely to defend his crown in the Ryanair Chase on Thursday.
Last year’s Champion Chase hero Special Tiara is one of two contenders for Henry de Bromhead, along with Ordinary World. The Paul Nicholls-trained Politologue, Gary Moore’s Ar Mad, Kim Bailey’s Charbel and God’s Own from Tom George’s yard complete the possible line-up.
Presenting Percy in action over fences
Ante-post RSA Chase favourite Presenting Percy tops a list of 22 horses still in contention for the the big novice event on the same day.
Trained by Pat Kelly, Presenting Percy won the Pertemps Final over hurdles at the meeting last year and was last seen chasing home Gold Cup hope Our Duke over fences at Gowran in February.
The seven-year-old is one of 13 possible Irish runners, with Monalee also prominent in the ante-post market for the Henry de Bromhead team.
Willie Mullins has eight to pick from at this stage, including Al Boum Photo and Invitation Only, while Gordon Elliott has just Dounikos and Shattered Love in the mix.
Noel Meade’s Snow Falcon is the other possible Irish-trained contender.
Paul Nicholls’ runner Black Corton is the shortest-priced contender from the home defence, with Colin Tizzard’s Elegant Escape another name of note.
Alan King has left in Mia’s Storm but she could bypass the race in favour of the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree on April 13.
King said: “I will walk the course on Sunday and see what it is like. If it is worse than good to soft she won’t run. If she doesn’t run she will go straight to the three-mile-one Grade One novice chase at Aintree.
“She is very ground dependant. She is very good but she does need good ground as we saw at Kempton when she could hardly pick her feet up. She is ready to run and if she does go to Cheltenham it will be the RSA or nothing.”