Quel Esprit: set to face seven rivals in thetote.com Punchestown Gold CupPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Esprit heads Gold Cup octet in festival finale
THREE out and one in is the story of Saturday's thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup after likely market leader Quel Esprit headed an eight-runner field following declarations for the rescheduled Grade 1 chase.
Captain Chris, Bostons Angel and Noble Prince, all intended starters when the race was due to be run on Wednesday, have been taken out of the event with China Rock, fourth in Tuesday's Boylesports.com Champion Chase, added to the line-up.
Rubi Light, Follow The Plan and Quantitativeeasing are the other big names set to bid for glory in a race that is backed up by the AES Champion 4yo Hurdle, in which Britain will seek an eighth win in the last 11 runnings with a trio of raiders that include the Alan King-trained pair Balder Success and Secret Edge.
JCB Triumph Hurdle runner-up Hisaabaat heads the home defence.
Willie Mullins has six runners - Ruby Walsh partners Marito - in the festival-closing Setantabet.com Handicap Hurdle, while the trainer's former RSA Chase winner Cooldine will try banks course racing for the first time in the opening Irish Field Chase.