Willie Mullins is confident Quel Esprit is back at the top of his game ahead of his run in thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup (5.30pm) on day two of the big Festival.

After completing a hat-trick of victories for the season in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February, the bold jumping grey was considered Ireland's major hope of grabbing Cheltenham Gold Cup glory last month.

But after failing to please connections when taking to the Prestbury Park turf on the morning of the blue riband, he was withdrawn from the race.

The champion trainer has been pleased with his eight-year-old's subsequent homework, however, and feels the rain-softened ground will be right up his street.

"We never really found anything wrong with him after Cheltenham. Paul (Townend) just rode him on the morning of the race and wasn't happy with the way he was moving, but we've been pleased with him at home since," said Mullins.

"All the rain that has fallen will definitely be a big help to him and hopefully he has a big chance.

"It's 10 years since we won this race with Florida Pearl and it would be great to win it again."

Mullins has a second runner in the three-mile-one-furlong contest in outsider Apt Approach, but admits he is likely to be out of his depth.

"It's going to be very tough for him, but there isn't anywhere else I can run him and at least he will go in the ground," Mullins added.

Another horse who will relish the underfoot conditions is proven mudlark Rubi Light.

Robbie Hennessy's star turn was not disgraced in finishing fifth in last month's Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham and steps back up in distance for the first time since chasing home subsequent Gold Cup winner Synchronised in the Lexus Chase.

"Andrew (Lynch) had a sit on him this morning and said he felt great, so we're ready to rock," said Hennessy.

"I was doing a rain dance last week, but I think I maybe overdid it a bit!

"It's a dreadful forecast for tomorrow, but the softer the better for us. The ground should be in his favour.

"He's won around Punchestown twice before so we know he likes the place and I suppose the only slight question mark is the trip.

"The only time he's been three miles before was when he was second to Synchronised in the Lexus, and that isn't looking bad form now.

"He's having his shoes taken off at the weekend and he'll be going out for his summer holidays, so fingers crossed he can go out on a high. It would be a nice pot to win."

The Philip Hobbs-trained Captain Chris won at this meeting last year and was one place ahead of Rubi Light in the Ryanair.

The Minehead handler admits he would have preferred a sounder surface.

"The course will suit him. I'm a bit concerned about the soft ground, but there is no other option for him. It's a case of either not running him or running him there. We have nothing to lose," Hobbs told At The Races.

"Richard (Johnson) has always felt he's a better horse on good ground, but we've got to take a chance.

"He's in particularly good form and had the ground been good I'd have really fancied him.

"The way he was running on in the Ryanair (at Cheltenham) suggested he will be suited by further."

Jessica Harrington's Bostons Angel won three Grade One prizes last season as a novice but has failed to rediscover that form so far this term.

The eight-year-old has had a spell away from the yard in a bid to rekindle his enthusiasm and jockey Robbie Power is hoping for some improvement.

"He's a triple Grade One winner and he's a very good horse. Things didn't work out for him earlier on in the season, but we all need sweetening up from time to time," said Power.

"He went away for a while and absolutely loved going hunting and schooling over banks. Hopefully it's rekindled his old flame and he gives a good account of himself."

Oliver McKiernan's Follow The Plan won this race last year and defends his crown just less than a fortnight after scoring at Aintree.

Noble Prince was a big disappointment in the Ryanair Chase and steps up in trip as Paul Nolan aims to help his charge come back to form.

Joining Captain Chris on the trip from Britain is the Nicky Henderson-trained Quantitativeeasing, while the field is completed by the Dessie Hughes duo of Roberto Goldback and Magnanimity.