Punchestown Festival winner Mount Benbulben is on course to make his seasonal return in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal on Saturday week.

The eight-year-old claimed the Grade One Growise Champion Novice Chase on his final start last season.

Previously a Grade Two winner over hurdles, Mount Benbulben will be stepping up to full company for the first time in the three-mile feature.

Trainer Gordon Elliott said: "The plan is that he'll run. I would love to have got a run into him beforehand, but the ground has been just too quick.

"It will be a nice starting point for him.

"He is in good nick and he is working well. If we had a couple more like him we'd be OK."

"He is in good nick and he is working well" - Gordon Elliott on Mount Benbulben

Noel Meade is planning to give Realt Dubh the opportunity to improve on last year's fourth in the Grade One event.

The nine-year-old was having his first crack at three miles that day but following his eclipse, Meade dropped back to two miles for his three subsequent runs.

However, he believes the Down Royal race is a good event in which to try the trip again.

Meade said: "The entries look tempting and I'd day we'll give it a go. Last year, he collided mid-air at the second last and it kind of knocked the wind out of him.

"We did say that we'd try him again over three miles but we never really got a chance to do it again after that. It is the ideal race to find out if he gets three miles.

"We have just been waiting on a drop of rain for him and he seems to be in very good form."

Elliott could also be represented by Realt Mor at Down Royal, with the Powers Irish Whiskey Chase on his agenda.

The eight-year-old won the Powers Gold Cup last season and is pencilled in for the two-and-a-half-mile Grade Two contest.
The trainer said: "He won a Grade One last season and I probably ran him back a bit quick at Punchetown.

"He is a nice horse and we are looking forward to getting him going in the second season novice chase."