The latest entries were released today for the five non-novice championship contests at next month's Cheltenham Festival and all the big names have stood their ground as we get ever-nearer to the four-day extravaganza that kicks off on March 13.
Reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Long Run spearheads a 26-strong list of acceptors for the Blue Riband event with dual winner Kauto Star looking to emulate his two defeats of the Nicky Henderson hotpot on the final day of the Festival on March 16.
Colm Murphy announced today that Irish star Quito De La Roque will not make the trip over from the Emerald Isle, but the race still has a very strong look to it with the aforementioned duo of Long Run and Kauto Star heading the ante-post betting.
Hurricane Fly was simply magical in the Irish Champion Hurdle and Willie Mullins' phenomenon is all the rage with the bookmakers for a repeat success in the Champion Hurdle. Zarkandar will look to cement his place in the higher echelons of the betting with a decent reappearance in Friday's rescheduled Betfair Hurdle, whilst the likes of Grandouet, Binocular and Oscars Well have all held their ground.
However, one horse who won't be heading to the Champion is Oscar Whisky, who will instead head to the World Hurdle and have a tilt at trying to dethrone Big Buck's in the 3m contest. Henderson's raider has been imperious of late and was a facile winner on the All Weather last time, but he will face a much stiffer task on March 15, as Big Buck's will bid for his 16th win in a row and maintain his unbeaten record over hurdles that dates back to 2008.
Sizing Europe will spearhead a mouthwatering field for the Queen Mother Champion Chase as Henry De Bromhead's speedster bids for his third Cheltenham Festival success. His demolition of Big Zeb in the Tied Cottage Chase saw his price contract and the reigning two-mile champion will bid to retain the title he won with aplomb last season.
Albertas Run could go in search of a third Ryanair Chase, but the 2012 renewal looks an ultra-competitive one with a plethora of top quality equine talents set to line up in the Grade One contest on March 15.
The Irish duo of Noble Prince and Rubi Light sit towards the head of the betting, but with the likes of Medermit, Riverside Theatre and Somersby all sitting in the entries then it is sure to be another cracking contest at a Festival that is sure to ooze class throughout.