Willie Mullins begins his quest to plunder a fourth Dessie Hughes Irish Independent leading trainer award with a quartet of red-hot favourites on day one of the Cheltenham Festival.
Ireland's insatiable champion trainer is 20/1 to draw a blank with today's 'bankers'. Douvan, Un De Sceaux, Faugheen and Annie Power have the potential to relieve bookmakers of a sum that could prove hard to claw back if they all score under Ruby Walsh.
The cumulative odds about the Carlow-based genius' four market leaders obliging today are just 18/1. An estimated 65,000 Irish race-goers and punters will make the journey to the hallowed Prestbury Park cauldron in the Cotswolds over the course of the week, with Mullins' legion of 11 spearheading a potent raiding delegation of 26 this afternoon.
In the Arkle Trophy, he will equip the relentless force of nature that is Un De Sceaux with earplugs to help Walsh keep a lid on an excitable individual that is surely the most thrilling prospect in the game right now.
In the main event, Faugheen will finally have his credentials tested against championship rivals, including his indomitable stablemate Hurricane Fly and Jessica Harrington's Jezki.
"I think it's very competitive this year," admitted Harrington of Jezki's bid to defend his title.
"I thought last year's Champion Hurdle was tough - it's never going to be an easy race."
After a dry day yesterday, the going at Cheltenham is good to soft after selective watering over the weekend. With up to 8mm of rain forecast for tomorrow and Thursday, clerk of the course Simon Claisse confirmed that nature would be left to take its course for the rest of the week.