TWO former champion hurdlers are set to clash at Leopardstown on Sunday, with Hurricane Fly and Binocular among six remaining possible runners in the BHP Irish Champion Hurdle.
The Willie Mullins-trained Hurricane Fly is going for a hat-trick in Ireland's feature hurdle race and has looked right back to his best this season in winning the Morgiana and the Istabraq Festival Hurdle.
"He's in great shape. Looking at him coming off the gallops on Monday morning he's fit and ready," Mullins said.
"Hopefully then we'll just count down to Sunday."
Mullins could also run Thousand Stars, a top-class horse in his own right who often adopts front-running tactics in these races having proven his stamina over longer distances.
Stablemate Zaidpour is also still in the mix.
Nicky Henderson's Binocular has won 11 of his 20 races over hurdles but has not been seen since finishing fourth to Rock On Ruby at Cheltenham in March.
He is set to travel to Ireland, rather than stay closer to home for the rearranged StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial at Doncaster, where the meeting is in some doubt.
"The plan at the minute is that he'll go to Ireland," said owner JP McManus' racing manager Frank Berry.
Everybody seems very happy with him and we're looking forward to a good run at Leopardstown."
Eddie Harty's Captain Cee Bee, also owned by McManus, and Oliver Brady's One Cool Shabra complete the select list.
Meanwhile, just six horses remain in the Frank Ward Solicitors Irish Arkle at Leopardstown, which has been moved from Sunday to Saturday due to concerns about the condition of the chase course.
The Willie Mullins-trained Arvika Ligeonniere is going for a Grade One hat-trick after winning the Drinmore and Racing Post Novice Chase. Mullins has also left in Craddockstown Novice Chase scorer Twinlight.
Oscars Well, trained by Jessica Harrington, could again take on the likely favourite, despite having been brushed aside by Arvika Ligeonniere at Leopardstown over Christmas. Stablemate Burn And Turn could also take her chance.
Tony Martin has left in Benefficient, while Klepht completes the contenders.
In other changes, the Listed Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle, which should have been run at Fairyhouse last weekend, has been transferred to Leopardstown's Sunday card, while the Ryan's Event Cleaners Beginners' Chase has been moved from Saturday to Sunday.