Byrnes wary over Solwhit

Trainer Charles Byrnes believes Solwhit is likely to improve for the run in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday.

The nine-year-old returned from a near two-year absence seemingly better than ever last season, taking a step up to three miles in his stride as he claimed the World Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree.

He makes his first appearance since filling the runner-up spot in the French Champion Hurdle in June, with his task made significantly easier by the surprise absence of unbeaten mare Annie Power.

Byrnes said: "We're looking forward to getting him started again and it's a big plus for us that Annie Power doesn't run.

"Our horse is in good form. It takes a bit more work to get him fit nowadays and he'll come on for the run, but, at the same time, he's well and fit enough to start off.

"He wasn't ready enough to run in the Hatton's Grace in Fairyhouse at the start of the month, but he's come on a good bit since then."

Mouse Morris is expecting an improved performance from talented six-year-old Rule The World, who tests the water at three miles for the first time.

The Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding was a slightly disappointing fourth over two and a half miles in the Hatton's Grace on December 1.

Morris said: "It will be interesting to see how he gets on over three miles. I think he'll be all right.

"He is particularly well at home going into the race and has come on for his run in Fairyhouse, so we'll keep our fingers crossed.

"Annie Power not being in the race makes things a bit easier."

Annie Power's defection means champion trainer Willie Mullins instead relies upon Hatton's Grace runner-up Zaidpour.

Mala Beach and Whatuthink complete the line-up.