Mullins 'five alive' hopes for Newbury showpiece
Willie Mullins has a strong-hand at the five-day stage of the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury with four of the top six in the weights from 31 to stand their ground.
Despite taking out Sempre Medici, Mullins has left in Dicosimo, Kalkir, Ivan Grozny, Petite Parisienne, Buiseness Sivola, Noble Inn and Whiteout. Saturday's impressive Leopardstown winner Blazer has also been left in, but is unlikely to make the cut.
Philip Hobbs' War Sound has been well-backed and remains in the mix, along with his stablemate and Richard Johnson's likely mount Sternrubin (which dead-heated for the Ladbroke), and top-weight Cheltenian.
Noel Meade's Waxies Dargle is a regular in the big handicaps for owner JP McManus, who has another strong fancy in Paul Nicholls' Modus.
John Ferguson can choose from Qewy and Three Kingdoms, while Dan Skelton has the option of running Fou Et Sage and Zarib. Starchitect, decent for Donald McCain last season, could have his first outing for David Pipe.
Elsewhere, former jockey Darren Egan has been suspended from racing for 12 years.
The Longford native was found guilty of corruption charges last November and the BHA has now published details of the ban.
The former leading apprentice was found to have engaged in a conspiracy with unlicensed individual Philip Langford, who at the time was given an immediate exclusion order which will remain in place for at least the next 15 years.
A BHA disciplinary panel said Langford laid Egan's rides between June 17 and July 16, 2013, with the jockey charged with having deliberately ridden to lose in two races - at Chepstow (Imperial Spirit) on July 12 and at Bath (Tregereth) on July 16.
British racing's governing body stated that "the starting point for both their cases was that this was a conspiracy which struck at the heart of the sport".
The BHA disciplinary panel said Egan sent an email dated November 23 last year, in which accepted he had committed wrongdoing but that he "desperately" needed money.