The Champion Stayers Hurdle at 17:25 is the first of a pair of Grade 1 races that headline the third day of the Punchestown Festival, and it will see favourite Klassical Dream attempting to put a couple of below-par efforts behind him in a bid to retain his crown.
Things had all looked rosy in the garden of last year's winner as he made a winning return at Leopardstown in February but he was then a long way below form when well beaten behind Royal Kahala at Gowran on his next start.
It's probably fair to say that things didn't go well for Klassical Dream at Cheltenham last time, either, where he seemed a little reluctant to line up and jumped off some way behind the leaders.
To his credit, he did get himself into a challenging position at the last only to land awkwardly after jumping the flight, which essentially ended his winning chance.
I've no doubt that Willie Mullins' charge is the most talented horse in this field, though his demeanour at the start last time, coupled with his rather headstrong nature means he's not one to be risking at a short price.
However, this doesn't look the deepest renewal and those wanting to take on the favourite are likely going to side with one of the veterans, Paisley Park and Sire Du Berlais, or Thedevilscoachman, who has stamina to prove stepping up to the longest trip he's faced.
An interesting contest, but not one I'll be having a bet in.
Gentleman sure to take all the beating
The Barberstown Castle Novice Chase at 18:35 is the other Grade 1 contest on the card, and it will be something of a surprise if Gentleman De Mee doesn't prove a little too classy for his six rivals.
The son of Saint Des Saints supplemented two wide-margin wins at Thurles and Navan in February and March with a convincing win over Arkle victor Edwardstone in the Maghull at Aintree last time.
Getting into a good rhythm while making all the running, the 6yo jumped well in the main and was well in command at the last, coming nearly five lengths to the good of the runner-up.
While not yet quite in the same league as some of his illustrious two-mile chasing stablemates, Gentleman De Mee is going to be a contender for the top races over the minimum trip next season and he can take this on the way to contesting those types of contests.
Mullins goes into this contest mob-handed as he also runs Blue Lord, Haut En Couleurs and Saint Sam, with the first-named looking just about the best of that trio, but it may be one from outside of Closutton that gives the fav most to think about.
Gabynako has been a model of consistency in some really good novice chases this season and a repeat of his runner-up finish in the Arkle should be good enough to see him finish in at least the same position here, though he'll likely be hard pushed to topple Gentleman De Mee.
Another fascinating contest, but again not one that tickles the punting tonsils for me.
Ideal punting Pal
The opening handicap hurdle at 15:40 has attracted a bumper field and could contain any number of well-handicapped horses, though I'm more than happy to side with Ideal Pal, who created a big impression when making all in a novice handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse last week.
The main feature of that win was how well Ideal Pal hurdled for such an inexperienced horse, he barely put a foot wrong, and the slick manner in which he got from A to B was reminiscent of horses who ply their trade in much better races than this.
The final time of that win was a good one, too, which lends substance to the form, and though his main rival unfortunately crashed out at the final flight, such was the way he galloped right to the line that I think Ideal Pal would have won no matter what.
Obviously in a race such as this, where we have 25 runners lining up, we're going to need our share of luck, but I'm hopeful that the selection's forward-going style should enable him to get a decent pitch clear of any potential problems in running.
With 6 places available on the Sportsbook, the 7.513/2 for Ideal Pal looks well worth getting stuck into from an each-way perspective.
City Chief the best of Henderson's duo
The handicap hurdle at 18:00 also has six places available, which makes this another attractive race from a punting point of view.
I zeroed in on the Nicky Henderson-trained pair here, with preference for City Chief over The Bomber Liston.
Now don't get me wrong, The Bomber Liston has done little wrong in his career to date and is still open to progression, but he looked a little on the green side to me when touched off at Plumpton in November, and he does lack a run since then.
Both of those things may not be ideal in a competitive handicap such as this.
City Chief is similarly inexperienced but he got down and dirty when battling to a win at Ayr last time and looks the type who will be well-suited by the step up in trip.
He also looks very much a chasing sort physically so may well be suited to the hustle and bustle of this big-field scenario despite having to concede experience to the majority of his rivals.