Tidal tops Hennessy 16
Tidal Bay, Flemenstar (partly hidden) and Sir Des Champs are all in Hennessy contention
(Healy Racing Photos)
Galvanised by Ruby Walsh to come home first in a dramatic finish to the Christmas highlight over course and distance, Tidal Bay could face a rematch with two of the other three horses involved in the conclusion.
Peter Casey's popular Flemenstar (third) and Sir Des Champs (fourth) have both been entered, with the latter's trainer Willie Mullins having won the last two renewals of Irish jumping's flagship race, and eight in total.
He has put in Quel Esprit too, while Henry de Bromhead's Sizing Europe has been given an entry as the trainer assesses his options.
Nicholls has back-up in jnwine.com Champion Chase winner Kauto Stone with Jonjo O'Neill giving the option for Ryanair star Albertas Run.
Albertas Run, who won the Ryanair in 2010 and 2011, was runner-up to Riverside Theatre in the most recent renewal of the Festival event as part of a fragmented campaign last season.
O'Neill is, however, currently favouring a trip to Ascot rather than Leopardstown.
He said: "We put him in the Hennessy just as an option, really, as I want to get a run into him.
"I would have thought he'd be more likely to run at Ascot (Ascot Chase)."
Other notable Irish contenders are Joncol, China Rock, Roi Du Mee, Seabass, Prince De Beauchene and Bog Warrior.
Willie Mullins has quelled suggestions that top-class mare might switch to line up in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, despite her name appearing among the 61 entries for the race.