Kidd and Treacy to chase the dream with cast-off Rashaan
Coneygree's presence would be a real festive treat at Leopardstown over Christmas but Rashaan's St Stephen's Day appearance will also warm the hearts of jumping purists.
Mark Bradstock's reigning Gold Cup hero Coneygree is among 26 to feature in the initial entries for the Lexus Chase on December 28, with his closest Gold Cup pursuers Djakadam and Road To Riches also engaged.
The relentless front-runner's exploits for Bradstock's small-scale operation has been the stuff of romance. Bradstock and his similarly personable and mildly eccentric wife Sara have doubtless refused telephone numbers for their home-bred pride and joy.
Their bold pursuit of the dream realised the ultimate reward when Coneygree demolished the Gold Cup field in March, and Rashaan's connections now seem set to tilt at windmills as well.
An €8,500 Aga Khan cast-off, Rashaan stretched its unbeaten hurdling record to three in fine style at Fairyhouse last Sunday.
At a time when a select band of powerful owners and trainers dominate the sport, it is reassuring to hear his trainer Colin Kidd confirm that he and the three-year-old's joint-owner Victor Treacy are intent on enjoying him while they can.
"I had a meeting with the owner on Monday and the horse is not for sale," said Kidd, who is based in Bagenalstown.
"All we want now is a bit of luck and the horse to stay healthy and sound and we'll have a lot of fun with him. He'll go to Leopardstown on St Stephen's Day for the Grade Two Juvenile. We'll worry about Cheltenham after."
Following Sunday's Grade Three win, Rashaan is now shading favouritism at 14/1 for the Triumph Hurdle in March, and Kidd feels he looked the part.
"It was great, he was very impressive. It's just the way he travels and settles so brilliantly through the race and jumps so well. He was able to pull away from the back of the last hurdle. That was the class about him."
Many of the entries unveiled yesterday for the Christmas Festival's showpiece Grade Ones were as expected, with a few surprises.
Nicky Henderson has given the long absent My Tent Or Yours the option of running in the Ryanair Hurdle against the likes of Nichols Canyon and Arctic Fire, whose trainer Willie Mullins has given star chaser Sir Des Champs an entry in the equivalent three-miler.
Others have multiple options as well, with Mullins' rising star Vautour, which is being aimed at the King George VI Chase along with Gordon Elliott's exciting Don Cossack, in the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase over two miles, as well as the Lexus.
More immediately, Mullins' Felix Yonger and Twinlight could tackle Sunday's Hilly Way Chase at Cork, a Grade Two for which Un De Sceaux is also entered.
Meanwhile, Pat Fahy, Alan Crowe and Philip Enright have lodged appeals against the sanctions they received after being found guilty of schooling Shantou Ed and Bobbie's Diamond in public at Fairyhouse on Saturday.
In England, it has been announced that next year's Crabbies Grand National will be run at the later time of 5.15 in an effort to improve falling television viewing figures.