Tifolium tops five in Champion
Supreme third Trifolium aims to secure a Grade One prize of his own in the Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on Tuesday.
The Charles Byrnes inmate was beaten just a length and a half by Cinders And Ashes in the Cheltenham Festival curtain-raiser and the form already looks strong, with the runner-up Darlan subsequently scoring at Aintree.
While Trifolium will be long odds-on for this assignment, it will be no walk in the park as he faces County Hurdle winner Alderwood, who has followed up his Cheltenham success with victory at Fairyhouse.
"He seems to have been in good form since Cheltenham and the ground doesn't seem to make a whole lot of difference to him," said Byrnes.
"It's a competitive little race, but he's been good since Cheltenham. You never know if that's left a mark until you run them again, but he's gone well at home and this will be his last run of the season anyway.
"I'm not sure what we'll do next season. It will be up to the owners (Gigginstown House Stud) but given how many chasers they have already, this lad could stay over hurdles.
"He's still only a young horse and I'd say there could be a bit more improvement in him."
Trainer Tom Mullins is hoping for another big run from Alderwood to cap an excellent season.
"All seems to have gone well with him since Fairyhouse and he's in good shape, so we'll take our chance and see what happens," said Mullins.
"It's his third Festival run, but he did have a good break after he ran at Listowel in September, so he hasn't been on the go all winter.
"He certainly owes us nothing so we'll give him this one more run and then he'll probably have a break again.
"Trifolium is going to be hard to beat, I'd say his Cheltenham form is a bit better than ours, but we'll give it a go.
"The ground won't be a problem to our lad."
Champion trainer Willie Mullins saddles the three other runners in the race.
Midnight Game looks the pick of the trio, although he needs to bounce back after disappointing in the Supreme and behind Alderwood at Fairyhouse.
"The ground won't be ideal for Midnight Game but we thought we'd let him take his chance as the ground is only going to get worse as the week goes on and at least he's getting the best of it tomorrow," said Mullins.
"Laganbank is a difficult horse to place, but hopefully he gives a good account of himself. Simenon might pick up some prize-money as well."