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Afarad heads the sponsors' betting for the 14th Ladbroke Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday for which 23 horses stood their ground today.

Christy Roche's charge is the Harrow firm's 4-1 favourite, while the Tote make him their 5-1 market leader. The five-year-old shares 6-1 favouritism at William Hill with Knife Edge for the IR£100,000 contest.

Afarad, third behind Katarino in the Elite Racing Club Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, and an easy winner on his reappearance at Naas in November, is 2lb out of the handicap currently headed by Theatreworld on 11st 12lb.

Aidan O'Brien's charge will carry top weight in the Grade One contest following the defection of Limestone Lad, with the weights set to rise by 10lb.

All the leading fancies stand their ground including the Michael O'Brien-trained Knife Edge who appeared set to chase Istabraq home at Leopardstown last week before sprawling at the final flight and eventually finishing fifth.

Derrymoyle, Golden Rule and last year's winner Archive Footage, who finished ahead of Knife Edge in Istabraq's race, are also in the two-mile race.

There are three possible British raiders including the Nicky Henderson-trained Geos, third behind Copeland in the William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Sandown last month.

The five-year-old will be ridden by Barry Geraghty, the leading rider in Ireland this season.

Henderson said: 'I'd hope he'd have a good chance. He loves soft ground - he's a French horse so he is used to it - he ran a good race at Sandown the other day and I think he's got a great chance.

'Mr Geraghty will ride him. He'll know his way round. I've spoken to Jessica Harrington and she told me he's the man I need. He's got 9-12 - he's only a small horse so a little weight will help him a lot.'

The other potential British raiders are the David Evans-trained Master Beveled and Steve Gollings' Get The Point.