Titleholder Rock On Ruby is one of the last four winners among 34 entries for the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on 12 March.

Hurricane Fly, successful in 2011, Binocular (2010) and Punjabi (2009) are the past champions who could try to regain their crown.

Last season it was Rock On Ruby's turn when he was officially in the hands of Paul Nicholls, but under the supervision of rookie trainer Harry Fry.

And he made an encouraging seasonal reappearance for Fry when third behind fellow Champion hopefuls Zarkandar and Grandouet in the StanJames.com International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.

"Rock On Ruby is still very much on course for the Stan James Champion Hurdle" - Harry Fry

"Rock On Ruby is still very much on course for the Stan James Champion Hurdle," said Fry.

"He is all set for a prep run at either Sandown on 2 February (Contenders Hurdle) or at Wincanton on 16 February (Kingwell Hurdle), weather permitting, as I'm not sure what the winter is going to bring next.

"He is not going to run on heavy ground between now and Cheltenham.

"If the ground is decent, he will have a prep run but if not, he will have a racecourse gallop instead.

"He is in great form at the moment and his run in the International has brought him on a ton - I am very pleased with him.

"Noel (Fehily) felt he was on the winner the whole way at Cheltenham.

"He travelled like the best horse in the race but the lack of a recent run at that level in those conditions counted against him turning in and over the last.

"I think he will have had to have improved since last year's Champion Hurdle to win this year's race but he has improved and is much bigger and stronger.

"My assistant, Ciara O'Connor, who rides Rock On Ruby every day, has been saying that all season and Noel felt exactly the same after the run in December."