Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase (Grade 1) | 2m4f, 5yo+ | RTE2/RTV
The Willie Mullins-trained Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo landed this contest last year, so there are big boots to fill for the five runners on Sunday.
For Al Boum Photo it was a first Grade 1 victory and, after registering a sequence of placed efforts at the top level, Mengli Khan bids for his own breakthrough in the €100,000 contest.
Third in the JLT Chase at Cheltenham, the Gordon Elliott-trained six-year-old went on to fill the same position in the Grade 1 Manifesto Chase at Aintree behind Kalashnikov.
Speaking on Saturday, Elliott, who is also represented by Cubomania, said: "Both seem in good form but Mengli Khan has been to Cheltenham and Aintree so you never know what effect that might have on him.
"He has the better form and has done well since we stepped him up in distance.
"Cubomania is wrong at the weights and ratings suggest he'll be up against it. But it's a small field and you have to support these races."
Al Boum Photo's victory was a first success in this contest for Mullins, who runs two this year in the shape of Real Steel, who was sixth in the JLT Chase at Cheltenham on his most recent start, and Voix Du Reve, who exited the same festival race three out.
Mullins said: "Real Steel has won at the course and we think going back right-handed will suit him better than Cheltenham. The trip and the ground will suit and he has to have a big chance.
"Voix Du Reve was beginning to get into contention in the JLT when he blundered and unseated Ruby [Walsh] at the third-last. Although his two wins over fences were over shorter trips, we felt he needed further and he will love the ground."
Completing the line-up is the Aidan Howard-trained Winter Escape, who burst blood vessels in the Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown in February having notched a hat-trick before that, two of them over this distance.
Frank Berry, racing manager to the eight-year-old's owner JP McManus, said: "Aidan is very happy with Winter Escape. He says he's in good form and his form gives him a reasonable chance."