Vroum Vroum bids to zoom zoom back to winner's enclosure
Grade 1 Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle | 3m | RTE1/ATR
Vroum Vroum Mag suffered her only defeat since joining Willie Mullins when finding former stablemate Apple's Jade marginally too good in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle this month.
Known as the 'supersub' at Mullins' yard owing to her versatility, the seven-year-old may have lacked for match practice when just beaten that day and should have benefited for the outing.
Ruby Walsh stays loyal, choosing Vroum Vroum Mag over stablemates Clondaw Warrior, Shaneshill and Whiteout.
Snow Falcon has long been held in high regard by Noel Meade, but the Patricia Hunt-owned six-year-old has not always enjoyed the best of luck.
The Nicky Henderson-trained Kotkikova is perhaps the most intriguing runner. The JP McManus-owned mare has yet to race outside of her native France, where she landed 11 of her 14 starts, and Barry Geraghty rides her for the first time.
Gordon Elliott provided a shock in this race 12 month ago when Gigginstown's Prince Of Scars won at 10-1, and the trainer is represented by De Plotting Shed this time.
The Mouse Morris-trained Milsean bids to give Gigginstown a hat-trick, as they also scored with Lieutenant Colonel in 2014.
Fifty per cent favourites
Favourites have won five of the last ten renewals, and eight of the last ten winners have started at odds of 4-1 or shorter.
Vroum Vroum Mag, Kotkikova and Whiteout are the mares bidding to make the most of the 7lb advantage, with Celestial Wave (2006), Sweet Kiln (2007) and Voler La Vedette (2011) recent female winners.
What they say
Willie Mullins, trainer of Clondaw Warrior, Shaneshill, Vroum Vroum Mag and Whiteout
Gordon Elliott, trainer of De Plotting Shed
He's in very good form and has continued to progress all season. This looks very competitive though and if he was placed we'd be thrilled.
Mouse Morris, trainer of Milsean
I was happy with his debut for me in a handicap hurdle at Navan. That was his first run in a long time and I think he'll improve from it.
Nicky Henderson, trainer of Kotkikova
We were undecided whether to start her over hurdles or fences, or over two miles or three, but the only reason she hasn't been further before is because of the way the programme is in France, and from what we can see she's all about stamina. She's schooled over fences but we thought we'd try her over hurdles first, and she would have run in the Long Walk but for JP having Unowhatimeanharry. She's on a big learning curve.