L’Ami Serge has done "seriously well" since winning the Tolworth Hurdle and appears among 84 entries for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham on March 10.
A winner of all three of his starts for Nicky Henderson, he is the nearest contender to Douvan at the head of the betting for the traditional curtain-raiser at the meeting.
Having made a mockery of his opening handicap mark of 132 in the Gerry Feilden at Newbury, L’Ami Serge won a Grade Two at Ascot before successfully stepping up to the highest level in the Tolworth at Sandown.
Henderson said: “He has won all three and won his Grade One, he was very impressive in the Tolworth.
“He has done seriously well for the break he has had since then.
“He has put on some serious condition. He will have to do his prep shortly as he is doing too well.”
Along with the favourite Douvan, Willie Mullins has 17 other entries, including Alvisio Ville, Kalkir, Dicosimo, Nichols Canyon and Morning Run.
El Namoose and Parlour Games have been given the option by John Ferguson, while Paul Nicholls has Vago Collonges among his team of five.
The Harry Fry-trained duo of Jollyallan and Jolly’s Cracked It, Silver Concorde, Fascino Rustico, Vercingetorix and Beast Of Burden are other interesting possibles at this stage.
Meanwhile, ante-post favourite Black Hercules is among 97 horses in contention for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle on March 13.
The six-year-old finished fourth in last season’s Champion Bumper and has made a fine start to his jumping career with successive victories at Cork, most recently striking at Grade Three level over the Albert Bartlett trip of three miles.
Black Hercules is one of 21 entries for Mullins, with stablemates Milsean, Nichols Canyon and Outlander also in the mix.
There is a record 42 Irish-trained entries, including highly-regarded Grade Two victor No More Heroes (Gordon Elliott) and the consistent Martello Tower (Mags Mullins).
Noel Meade took the spoils last year with Very Wood and has four engaged, headed Snow Falcon, while Mouse Morris has nominated Alpha Des Obeaux and Baily Cloud.
Value At Risk, formerly trained in Ireland by the now suspended Philip Fenton and now with Dan Skelton, is the highest British-trained horse in the betting, with a step up in trip expected to suit.
Other contenders include the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Blaklion and Harry Fry’s Thomas Brown.
Staying with Festival news, red-hot favourite Peace And Co is one of 70 entries for the JCB Triumph Hurdle.
Unbeaten in three races, he showed a different side to his game at Cheltenham last Saturday when victorious in a Triumph trial.
As well as the ante-post favourite, trainer Henderson has other realistic hopes in Top Notch, in the same ownership as Peace And Co, Hargam and Bivouac.
Paul Nicholls numerically has the strongest entry with seven possibles, while Mullins only has four but his team includes Kalkir and Dicosimo.
The Gordon Elliott-trained Vercingetorix and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Bristol De Mai are also prominent in the betting and, like Peace And Co and Top Notch, are owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.
Fiscal Focus and Karezak are others to have shown worthwhile form.
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