Big two go head to head in a bid to land sweet success
Grade 2 Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle | 2m | ATR
Just two trainers are responsible for all seven runners here and you have one guess to name them.
Correct, it's the Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins show.
This is a contest that often goes to script, with six of the last ten favourites obliging, and the victory of Thousand Stars in 2014 at odds of 4-1 being the biggest-priced of the past decade.
No-one has a better record in the race than that admirable grey’s trainer Mullins, who has been responsible for six winners since 1999.
In a bid to make it seven Mullins runs the talented but frustrating Renneti and Whiteout, who was last seen falling behind Limini at Punchestown in February.
Getting Renneti to start has been a problem in the past, but he was much more obliging when jumping off for the County Hurdle at Cheltenham, in which he finished eighth behind stablemate Arctic Fire.
Mullins said of his duo: "Renneti is a bit of a character but if he runs to his best he'll have a good chance. He finished well when eighth in the County Hurdle and the longer trip this time should suit.
"Whiteout fell four out in the race Limini won at Punchestown in February. It's her first run since and she seems fine, but she will need to improve."
Elliott's five-strong challenge is headed by Sutton Place. He entered the Champion Hurdle picture when landing the Boyne Hurdle at Navan in February, but connections decided to swerve Cheltenham altogether with a view to finishing the season strongly in advance of what promises to be an exciting novice chase campaign next term.
Elliott said: "Sutton Place is in good form after a break and is a course winner. He looks the pick of our five."
The trainer also runs Tombstone, De Plotting Shed, Lieutenant Colonel and Taglietelle, and added: "Tombstone disappointed at Cheltenham and never looked happy in a big field of horses. He's better than that and the smaller field will help.
"De Plotting Shed has been very consistent and is in good form, while Lieutenant Colonel has had his problems and we're just hoping he runs well. Taglietelle didn't take to fences. We're trying to restore his confidence but he looks up against it on ratings."