The race has been a Willie Mullins benefit race since its acceptance to the festival, he has won the race 4 times out of a possible 7.
In fact an English trained horse has only triumphed once in that 7 year period. On that basis we should perhaps be looking to the emerald isle for clues this year, however long term antepost favourite has been WILLOUGHBY COURT trained by Ben Pauling, who won last years Neptune hurdle from the ill fated Neon Wolf.
He then won his first two chases the second very impressively from top class performer Yanworth, however that horse reversed the form the last day.
Confidence has been high for this race from connections however in recent days it has come to light the horse has poison in his foot so may be a doubt for the big day.
This has meant INVITATION ONLY has become favourite for the aforementioned Willie Mullins. Owned by the Wylies like last years winner Yorkhill, the horse fell on chase debut before two nice victories. His fourth chase start came in the Flogas Novice chase grade 1 where he finished a close third behind RSA chase fancy Monalee.
Second in that race was AL BOUM PHOTO also for Willie Mullins who charged up the run in to head his stable mate on the post. Whether either/both or neither go for this race only the trainer and owners know for sure at this stage.
Other horses of interest if lining up here include MODUS of Paul Nicholls, BENATAR of Gary Moore and TERREFORT of Nicky Hendersons whose form was given a boost this weekend by the facile victory of Cyrname, whom the horse beat narrowly the last day.