Willie Mullins reports Hurricane Fly to be in fine shape as he bids to stretch his unbeaten run in Grade Ones to six in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown tomorrow.
The Montjeu gelding's winning streak began in this race 12 months ago and he has since gone on to stamp his authority in the two-mile division with two victories at Leopardstown and one at Fairyhouse.
He famously gave Mullins his first Cheltenham Champion Hurdle triumph when becoming the first horse to lower the colours of Peddlers Cross in March.
"I've been very happy with him since Cheltenham," said Mullins.
"We've had a tremendous season with him so hopefully we can keep that going for the next one."
The County Carlow trainer saddles half of the six-strong field with Thousand Stars and Blackstairmountain completing his team.
The former was fourth in the Champion Hurdle and went down narrowly to Oscar Whisky at Aintree.
"Thousand Stars has done nothing wrong all season, he's been very consistent," Mullins said.
Blackstairmountain has plenty to find on the book but he is a course-and-distance winner.
"He looked like winning the last day but just got beat," added Mullins.
"He will have to improve a lot to get involved, but he does like Punchestown."
Hurricane Fly takes on last year's Cheltenham hero Binocular for the first time after Nicky Henderson's charge was unable to defend his title due to medication for an allergy still being in his system.
Binocular disappointed when only fourth behind his stablemate Oscar Whisky at Aintree, but Henderson feels his horse needed the run more than he thought.
"You'd have to be disappointed with his run at Aintree. The one thing that is certain is that it had nothing to do with the fact it was over an extra half a mile," the Seven Barrows trainer told At The Races.
"He hadn't run since Sandown (in early February) and he looked a bit burly up there.
"I'm sort of wondering, and hopeful, that race might just have been needed a bit more than I would have anticipated.
"I think you'll see a sharper horse tomorrow as he's in good form.
"The interesting thing is it's the first time he and Hurricane Fly have ever met so there's a certain amount at stake on that score as well."