Last year’s Arkle Trophy hero has won all his five completed starts over fences, but has fallen in his other two outings when looking certain to win. Mullins could back up his bid by calling on Felix Yonger, Twinlight and Vautour, although the latter is widely expected to line up in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup two days later.
The last three winners of the Champion Chase are in the field, with Nicky Henderson’s resurgent 2013 scorer Sprinter Sacre widely considered the biggest threat to the Irish-trained favourite.
Trainer Gary Moore has suggested he could reach for the blinkers with 2014 winner Sire De Grugy, while last year’s hero Dodging Bullets is back to defend his crown for Paul Nicholls.
Colm Murphy won this race in 2010 with Big Zeb and has an outsider this time in the shape of Sizing Granite.
The eight-year-old, owned by Ann and Alan Potts, won the Grade One Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree last April when trained by Henry de Bromhead.
Sizing Granite has yet to run for Murphy, but the Co Wexford handler reports his new addition to be in good form ahead of this massive test, for which he is a 25-1 chance.
“We’re pleased with him. He had a racecourse gallop round Leopardstown. Jonathan [Burke] rode him and he was happy enough with him,” said Murphy.
“He wouldn’t be like Big Zeb. He’s a grand, big, straight-forward fella.
“We’ve been feeling our way and chipping away with him and we’re happy where he is.
“He’s got plenty of ability and seems to be better on better ground.
“The lack of rain forecast before next Wednesday would suit our horse, for sure. He won on good ground when he took the Grade One at Aintree last season and similar conditions again would be down his street.”
Somersby, runner-up for the last two years, will be making his eighth successive appearance at the festival.
The list is made up by Special Tiara, third to Dodging Bullets last year, last year’s Arkle runner-up God’s Own, and Just Cameron, who took second spot behind Un De Sceaux at Punchestown last April.