Pride Of Dulcote, ante-post favourite for Sunday's 21st running of the Hennessy Gold Cup, looks the most interesting of yesterday's combined total of 40 acceptors for the quartet of Grade 1 events at Leopardstown.
This Paul Nicholls-trained gelding is the least experienced chaser among the 11 Hennessy survivors that includes fellow English-based raiders Money Trix and The Listener, plus last year's principals Joncol and Cooldine.
Runner-up to Weapon's Amnesty for the Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2009, Pride Of Dulcote has won both his starts over the larger obstacles -- more than 14 months apart at Worcester and Newbury due to injury. The Nicholls runner is a 7/4 chance with Paddy Power to cope with Joncol (5/2), Cooldine (6/1) and Money Trix (7/1) this weekend when the ground is certain to become testing.
Britain's champion trainer has also left another of his French recruits Indian Daudaie -- third to the unbeaten Local Hero at Cheltenham last Saturday -- in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle. However, the other two Grade 1 attractions there, the Deloitte Novice Hurdle and the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase, may have greater relevance to next month's trip to the Cotswolds as the Willie Mullins pair Zaidpour and Mikael D'Haguenet attempt recovery missions.
Zaidpour is 15/8 market leader with Powers to make amends for his Christmas disappointment as he steps up a quarter mile this time against stablemate So Young and Dermot Weld's Hidden Universe.
Having schooled well last Sunday, Mikael D'Haguenet (5/4) should enjoy going an extra four furlongs on Sunday and the yard's Limerick chasing debut winner Quel Esprit (5/2) are that firm's prime contenders for the PJ Moriarty.
The Glenfarclas cross-country chase, frozen off at Punchestown last Sunday, has been rescheduled for the Kildare course next Wednesday.