Samcro, 5-1 favourite for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, steps up to two and a half miles for the first time at Navan on Sunday as he attempts to extend his unbeaten record and enhance his potential superstar billing.
A three-time bumper winner last season, having been bought for £335,000 at Goffs Aintree Sale in 2016 after winning his only point-to-point, the Gordon Elliott-trained five-year-old blitzed his rivals on his hurdling debut at Punchestown last month, winning by 15 lengths from subsequent scorer Mind's Eye.
Elliott said: "We've always thought the world of Samcro and he was very good first time over hurdles at Punchestown.
"We've been happy with him since – in fact I couldn't be happier with him - and we're looking forward to it. He's an exciting horse who should make into a very good chaser next season."
Samcro's eight rivals in a race Elliott and Samcro's owner Gigginstown House Stud won with Death Duty a year ago include the Willie Mullins-trained mare Good Thyne Tara, who ran Samcro to half a length in a four-runner bumper at Navan last season.
"I suppose you could make a case for Good Thyne Tara as she's meeting Samcro 6lb better, but Samcro was very good winning at Punchestown and it's going to be tough for our mare," said Mullins.
Apart from Samcro, his stablemate Delta Work and Good Thyne Tara, the line-up includes four other hurdle winners.
Jetz, a five-length scorer at Fairyhouse this month, represents Jessica Harrington, while Dermot McLoughlin runs Listowel maiden winner Turbojet.
The mares Creation, a winner at Tipperary, and Half The Odds, who scored on her hurdling debut at Galway, represent Henry de Bromhead and Noel Meade in what looks sure to be an informative contest.