Kelly hoping rain arrives for Percy's Irish Gold Cup assault
Ante-post Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy and the progressive Kemboy are among 24 entries for the Unibet Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown next month.
Despite having been off the track since his brilliant display in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham last March, the Pat Kelly-trained Presenting Percy heads ante-posts lists for this season's blue riband.
He has missed several engagements this season already on account of unsuitable ground and Kelly is keeping his fingers crossed that rain will arrive in the coming weeks so his charge can return to action on February 3.
Kemboy thrust himself in the Cheltenham Gold Cup picture with an impressive display in the Savills Chase over the Irish Gold Cup course and distance late last month.
He is the 7/2 favourite to follow up at the Dublin Racing Festival - ahead of his stablemate Al Boum Photo and Presenting Percy at 9/2 - although Willie Mullins has indicated he could take Kemboy straight to the Cotswolds in March. The champion trainer has three other contenders for the Irish Gold Cup in Bellshill, Killultagh Vic and Total Recall.
Other possibles include Henry de Bromhead's Monalee and Noel Meade's Road To Respect, which finished second and third in the aforementioned Savills Chase. There are three potential English raiders in Ruth Jefferson's Waiting Patiently, Nicky Henderson's Top Notch and Jonjo O'Neill's Minella Rocco.
The first of four Grade Ones on the afternoon is the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle.
Joseph O'Brien has a strong hand, with course-and-distance winner Sir Erec among his six entries. Other hopefuls among 27 entries include the Tom Mullins-trained Rocky Blue - winner of a Grade Two over the course and distance - and Gordon Elliott's pair of Chief Justice and Coeur Sublime.
The Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle has attracted 32 contenders, headed by runaway Future Champions Novice Hurdle winner Aramon. He is one of nine possibles for Mullins along with the likes of Easy Game, Klassical Dream and Tornado Flyer.
Elliott's recent Naas Grade One winner Battleoverdoyen also features.
Stablemate Apple's Jade heads 12 entries for the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle on the first day of the Festival as the classy mare bids to continue her rich vein of form.
Elliott has also entered last season's Triumph Hurdle winner Farclas, Tombstone and Samcro, although the latter is unlikely to be seen out before Punchestown in April.
Faugheen, Laurina and Sharjah are among six Mullins-trained entries. Last year's Champion Hurdle runner-up Melon, Cilaos Emery and Saldier could also represent Mullins.
Last year's winner Supasundae and Henry de Bromhead's Petit Mouchoir are the only other two entries.
Leopardstown regular Simply Ned is one of 15 entries in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase over two miles. Footpad forms part of a four-strong Mullins entry with Great Field, Min and Un De Sceaux also in the mix.