Last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Vautour and Gordon Elliott’s Clarcam have met twice already this season with Willie Mullins’ Vautour coming out on top easily the first time they met before the tables were turned in no uncertain terms over Christmas.
Mullins believes Vautour was some way short of his best that day, though, and he has also mentioned the Irish Arkle as a possible target for Rich Ricci’s star.
If Vautour does not run this weekend, Mullins has a more than able deputy in Valseur Lido, who was an impressive winner of the Drinmore Novice Chase last November.
The champion trainer has also entered Adriana Des Mottes, Gitane Du Berlais and Val De Ferbet.
Mouse Morris has entered the smart Rule The World as well as Real Steel with Tony Martin giving Ted Veale the option.
However, Ted Veale could run in the valuable BoyleSports Hurdle, although he would have to carry top weight in that event, in which Martin has also left in Grand Annual winner Savello.
The next three in the weights for the handicap feature are Analifet, Daneking and Lucky Bridle, with the trio trained by Mullins.
Jessica Harrington’s Rock The World is prominent after going down narrowly over Christmas while the likes of Shadow Catcher and Waxies Dargle are also set to carry plenty of weight.
John Quinn’s Kashmir Peak and Nicky Henderson’s ante-post favourite Snake Eyes are the only two entries left in from England.
Pink Coat, Tandem, Katie T and Pairofbrowneyes are all still in the mix. The weights for the BoyleSports Chase are headed by Marito.
Beaten Hennessy favourite Djakadam, Ted Walsh’s Foxrock and Pat Fahey’s veteran He’llberemembered are all entered as well.
Byerley Babe, Down Ace, Fever Pitch, Federici and Rubi Light are other notable contenders.
Walsh’s Foxrock was narrowly beaten in the valuable Paddy Power Chase at Christmas and had the option of running in the Thyestes later in the month or this weekend, which looks most likely.
Walsh said: “Giving 20lb to something well handicapped is his problem. He is seven and he’ll stand up to a bit more racing now. He hasn’t been over-taxed and he’s had a couple of runs before Christmas.
“The first hard race he had was the Paddy Power and you never know how they will come out of it but he looks all right.”
Dermot Weld is keen to run Tandem in the BoyleSports Hurdle but would have to think twice if they ground turned very testing.
“He’s ready to run, the only negative would be if the ground comes up very soft. If it comes up heavy he wouldn’t run but as long as the ground isn’t too bad he should give a good account of himself,” said Weld.
Officials at Leopardstown are not expecting any serious problems from the weather ahead of Sunday’s meeting. The ground was described as soft yesterday morning with rain forecast in midweek but not in any amount to give the executive any real concerns.
“At the moment the going is soft on both hurdle and chase tracks,” Leopardstown chief executive Pat Keogh said.
“There is some rain coming in tomorrow, but we are not anticipating any difficulties for the weekend.
“BoyleSports are supporting both big handicaps aand we are looking forward to two really big races.”
Both the BoyleSports Handicap Chase and the BoyleSports Hurdle carry €100,000 in prize money.