Galopin Des Champs is all set to make a slightly belated start to his campaign in the rescheduled John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase today (live at 2.10pm on RTÉ News Channel and RTÉ Player).
The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old kicked off his chasing career in great style last season, winning three of his four starts by considerable margins and only suffering a sole defeat when a luckless faller in the Turners Novices' Chase at Cheltenham.
His victories included two Grade One titles, latterly an 18-length rout in the Boylesports Gold Cup Novice Chase, and it is at that level that he steps into open company at Punchestown when facing a field of six rivals over two and a half miles.
"We're delighted to get him back out, Galopin Des Champs is in good form and he'll have to be to take on Fakir D'oudairies who is a specialist two-and-a-half-miler," Mullins told Racing TV.
"Both of them are having their first run of the season and it'll be a good race to watch. A lot of racing has been cancelled and put back on."
The Paul Townend-ridden Galopin Des Champs is one of two runners for the Mullins yard, with stablemate Haut En Couleurs partnered Bryan Cooper.
Gordon Elliott's Fury Road won when starting his term in the Grade Two Eventsec Chase at Down Royal last month and he lines up under Jack Kennedy, with Jessica Harrington's Lifetime Ambition, Gavin Cromwell's Vanillier and Martin Brassil's Fastorslow also in opposition.
A key challenger is Joseph O'Brien's Fakir D'oudairies, an experienced chaser who was a Grade One winner in the Marsh Chase at Aintree in April and the fourth-placed horse behind Allaho in the John Durkan last year.
He has not been seen since finishing fifth behind the same horse in the three-mile Punchestown Gold Cup at the tail end of last term and steps back down in trip for his seasonal debut.