Honeysuckle will face a maximum of eight rivals when she bids for back-to-back victories in the BARONERACING.COM Hatton’s Grace Hurdle.
Henry de Bromhead’s mare was brilliant winner of the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One last season – and went on to extend her unbeaten record to eight with further top-level victories in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown and the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The six-year-old is likely to be a warm order to make a successful reappearance at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
Willie Mullins has confirmed last year’s runner-up Bacardys, as well as Saldier, who has been off the track since winning the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown 12 months ago.
Gordon Elliott’s pair of Cracking Smart and Fury Road, Noel Meade’s Beacon Edge, the Mouse Morris-trained French Dynamite, Matthew Smith’s stable star Ronald Pump and Supasundae from Jessica Harrington’s yard are the other hopefuls.
The first of three Grade Ones on the card is the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle, for which 11 horses have stood their ground.
Elliott landed last year’s renewal with the brilliant Envoi Allen and he and owners Cheveley Park Stud have another major contender in Ballyadam. The Cullentra handler has also confirmed One Down and The Very Man.
Mullins has won a record eight previous renewals of the Royal Bond and can this year choose from N’Golo, Cheltenham Festival winner Concertista, Getaway Gorgeous and unbeaten mare Shewearsitwell.
Meade could saddle Cask Mate and Jesse Evans, with Dewcup (Ted Walsh) and Annexation (De Bromhead) also in the mix.
The aforementioned Envoi Allen is the undoubted star attraction amongst seven contenders for the Drinmore Novice Chase, and is joined by a trio of stablemates in Andy Dufresne, Coko Beach and Easywork.
The seven-strong potential field is completed by Joseph O’Brien’s trio of Assemble, Embittered and Home By The Lee.
Elliott also dominates the entries for the Bar One Racing Price Boost Juvenile Hurdle, with Glorious Zoff, Quilixios and Zanahiyr all possible representatives.
O’Brien’s Druid’s Affair and Mullins-trained French recruit Saint Sam could take them on.
Saturday’s Fairyhouse card is not quite as high-profile, but there could nevertheless be some big names on show, with Mullins entering Albert Bartlett winner Monkfish and Ballymore third The Big Getaway for the opening beginners chase.
The champion trainer is also responsible for four of the 12 entries for the Grade Two Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Hurdle in Concertista, Finest Evermore, Getaway Gorgeous and Shewearsitwell.