Four to brave the Hurricane
Hurricane Fly is hot favourite for the Istabraq Festival Hurdle
(Healy Racing Photos)
The 2011 Champion Hurdle hero missed the first half of last season with injury, but following a scintillating comeback in the Irish Champion Hurdle, he was odds-on to strike gold again at Cheltenham in March.
However, he was beaten into third in a lacklustre display and although he did sign off with victory at Punchestown, he headed into the new campaign with questions to answer.
Willie Mullins' stable star travelled with far more zest when making a winning return in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown last month and will be odds-on to follow up this weekend.
The champion trainer also saddles the consistent Thousand Stars, while the main threat from outside the yard is Dermot Weld-trained mare Unaccompanied, winner of this Grade One prize 12 months ago.
Eddie Harty's veteran Captain Cee Bee and rank outsider Tilabay complete the line-up.
In the opening maiden hurdle at Leopardstown, Foxrock's racecourse debut for Ted Walsh is attracting plenty of support. The point-to-point winner at Loughrea in October has been backed down to 11/8 from 7/4.