Trainer Willie Mullins believes punters will see a much-improved Hurricane Fly in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown on December 29.

The nine-year-old set a new record for Grade One wins over jumps with a 17th success at the highest level in the Morgiana Hurdle on his comeback but he failed to impress many observers.

Mullins said: "It was great to win his 17th Grade One in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.

"It was probably his least impressive performance, but he will come on enormously for that.

"He loves it around Leopardstown and he has won six times around there.

"He will go back there for the Grade One Ryanair Festival Hurdle on the final day of the festival.

"Everything is geared towards retaining his Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham."

A mouthwatering clash is in store as last season's Triumph Hurdle winner Our Conor is due to have his first start of the campaign.

The four-year-old gelding sustained minor injuries after he ran in a Flat handicap at Naas in October.

Trainer Dessie Hughes said: "I have been very happy with him and he was only held up for about 10 days after Naas, which was unfortunate as I would have liked to have run him in the Morgiana.

"He is 100% and he'll go straight to Leopardstown at Christmas."

Jezki and My Tent Or Yours also hold entries, as does Annie Power, but Mullins states the unbeaten mare is more likely to run in the Christmas Hurdle 24 hours earlier.

The County Carlow handler said: "She was very good at Ascot and she seems to have come out of that race well.

"She has the option of the two-mile race, but we'll see and I have her in the three-mile race as well.

"I would be optimistic that she will get that trip."

Also due to run in the three-mile contest is the Charles Byrnes-trained Solwhit, successful at both Cheltenham and Aintree last season.

"He was in the Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse, but that race came too soon for him, so he'll head on now to Leopardstown at Christmas," said Byrnes.

"He was very good at both Cheltenham and Aintree last season and, long term, we'd like to get him back to Cheltenham again."

Nineteen entries were received for the three-miler.