Ante-post favourite Epatante is set to face 16 rivals in the Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.
The JP McManus-owned mare has been hugely impressive in winning each of her two starts this season and leapt to the head of the market for what appears a wide-open renewal of the two-mile championship with a dominant display in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton at Christmas.
Epatante's trainer Nicky Henderson also saddles last season's Triumph Hurdle hero Pentland Hills, Call Me Lord and Fusil Raffles as he bids to add to his record haul of seven Champion Hurdle wins. The Seven Barrows handler has not declared the mare Verdana Blue.
The Irish challenge includes the Willie Mullins-trained pair of Cilaos Emery and Sharjah.
Cilaos Emery was supplemented after successfully reverting to hurdles from fences at Gowran Park last month, while Sharjah needs to bounce back from a disappointing run in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Gavin Cromwell, who landed last year's Champion Hurdle with the late Espoir D'Allen, is this year represented by the fast-improving Irish Champion Hurdle runner-up Darver Star.
Gordon Elliott's Coeur Sublime, Joseph O'Brien's Darasso, Henry de Bromhead's Petit Mouchoir and the Jessica Harrington-trained Supasundae complete the raiding party, with De Bromhead's Irish Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle instead running in the Mares' Hurdle.
Supasundae was making his seasonal reappearance when fourth in the Irish Champion Hurdle - and Harrington expects significant progress.
"I was delighted with his run in Leopardstown. He travelled much better than he usually does," said the Moone-based trainer.
"He's beaten most of those horses somewhere along the line. I know he's a year older, but he doesn't seem to be at home.
"We toyed with the idea of putting blinkers on, but we tried them on him and he didn't really work any better. He's as genuine as anything.
"I think he goes there with a great chance - hopefully the race will suit him down to the ground."
Ballyandy (Nigel Twiston-Davies), Cornerstone Lad (Micky Hammond), Gumball (Philip Hobbs), Le Patriote (Dr Richard Newland), Not So Sleepy (Hughie Morrison) and Silver Streak (Evan Williams) complete the line-up.
17 declared for Tuesday's Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham pic.twitter.com/fdGbgzSvu8— PA Racing (@PAracing) March 8, 2020
Shishkin and Asterion Forlonge are two of 16 runners declared for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.
Since making it no further than the second flight on his hurdling debut, Nicky Henderson's Shishkin has proved himself a top-class prospect with two facile victories at Newbury and Huntingdon - propelling him to favouritism for the traditional Festival curtain-raiser.
Henderson also runs Chantry House and Allart in his bid for a fourth Supreme success.
Willie Mullins has won the race more than any other trainer, saddling four of the last seven winners, and six in all, with Tourist Attraction providing him with his very first Festival success when striking gold in 1995.
His chief contender this time around is Asterion Forlonge, who like Shishkin carries the colours of owner Joe Donnelly.
The grey is unbeaten in three starts under rules and ran away with a Grade One at Leopardstown last month.
Like Henderson, Mullins fires a three-pronged assault, with Elixir D'Ainay and Berkshire Royal - who makes his hurdling debut - also featuring in the final field.
After confirming his star novice Envoi Allen will run in the Ballymore on Wednesday, Gordon Elliott relies on Abacadabras, while Tolworth Hurdle winner Fiddlerontheroof is a leading contender for Colin Tizzard.
Edwardstone (Alan King), Captain Guinness (Henry de Bromhead) and Soviet Pimpernel (Peter Fahey) are others of note.
Eleven runners are set to go to post for the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy, with De Bromhead's Notebook and the Mullins-trained Cash Back renewing rivalry after finishing first and second in the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown last month.
Joseph O'Brien's Fakir D'Oudairies is another major hope for Ireland, while the British team includes Olly Murphy's Brewin'upastorm, Dan Skelton's Maire Banrigh and the Evan Williams-trained Esprit Du Large.
Kim Bailey's Vinndication heads a field of 24 runners declared for the Ultima Handicap Chase, although that number will be reduced by one after General Principle was declared an early non-runner.
Vinndication's rivals include Paul Nolan's Discorama, Ben Pauling's Kildisart and The Conditional from David Bridgwater's yard.
11 for the Arkle at Cheltenham on Tuesday pic.twitter.com/4RLQAqjopY— PA Racing (@PAracing) March 8, 2020
Benie Des Dieux and Honeysuckle are set for a fascinating face-off after both featured among 10 declared for the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle.
The Mullins-trained Benie Des Dieux won this Grade One event in 2018 and looked certain to double up last year before dramatically crashing out at the final obstacle.
She bounced back from that to win Grade Ones at Punchestown and Auteuil, and she was victorious on her only start to date this term, winning the Galmoy Hurdle in January.
In contrast, Honeysuckle arrives unbeaten in seven starts for De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore, most recently triumphing in the Irish Champion Hurdle after also running out a comfortable victor in the Hatton's Grace earlier in the campaign.
Both had alternate options at the Festival with Benie Des Dieux also engaged in the Stayers' Hurdle and Honeysuckle in the Champion.
Mullins also has Elfile and Stormy Ireland in the two-and-a-half-mile contest, while De Bromhead has a second string to his bow in Popong.
Last year's winner Roksana lines up again as she looks to return to the winning trail.
Fergal O'Brien is also double-handed with Cap Soleil and Crossgalesfamegame, with Lady Buttons one of two for Phil Kirby, along with Desaray Girl.
Kirby also had the option of running the admirable Lady Buttons in Wednesday's Champion Chase, but has opted for another crack at this race, in which she finished fourth last year.
Just 7lb separates the 22 contenders for the Northern Trust Company Novices' Handicap Chase.
Henderson's Precious Cargo and Mick Channon's Hold The Note head the weights, with Henry Daly's Whatmore and and the Noel Williams-trained Sensulano at the bottom. Kim Bailey's Imperial Aura and Elliott's Galvin are the top two in the market.
Willie and Patrick Mullins combine with hot favourite Carefully Selected in the concluding National Hunt Chase.
The eight-year-old is set to face 13 rivals, including Richard Hobson's Lord Du Mesnil - the mount of Sam Waley-Cohen - and Elliott's Ravenhill, who is ridden by Jamie Codd.