The home straight arrives at the Cheltenham Festival and it is the one we've all been waiting patiently for as Gold Cup Day dawns in the Cotswolds.
The Gold Cup (3.30) is the centrepiece of the four-day meeting and quite simply the most coveted prize in National Hunt racing.
After another week where the raiding party have dominated The Festival, will Irish eyes be smiling again in the Blue Riband on St Patrick's Day?
We look at all seven races on Gold Cup Day with a reminder that you can follow all the Cheltenham Festival action via the bet365 Sports Live Streaming Service throughout the week and also keep up to date with all the action via our for all the Build Up, Previews and Tips for the action.
It is of course St Patrick's Day and it will be a shock of seismic proportions should the opening Triumph Hurdle not go for an export, given the formbook has shown the Irish juveniles are miles clear of their British-based counterparts.
Willie Mullins has a stranglehold on this division and runs a staggering seven in the day four opener, with 7/4 Lossiemouth and 2/1 Blood Destiny topping the market in front of last month's Dublin Racing Festival Grade 1 winner Gala Marceau at 9/2. It's as big as 16/1 bar that trio.
Gala Marceau won the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown six weeks ago but only after Lossiemouth suffered some very bad luck in the run.
The filly did well in the circumstances to come back and get second prize. She was 7½-lengths too strong for Gala Marceau when they had clashed at Christmas and, despite that ill fate last time, Paul Townend has nailed his colours to the mast of Rich Ricci's filly.
Having ridden Gala Marceau in both starts Danny Mullins stays on board and presumably that leaves Patrick Mullins as the prime beneficiary in picking up the ride on Blood Destiny, the highest-rated horse in the race and ultra-impressive in two wins since joining the Closutton team from France.
Allowing for Lossiemouth's 7lb sex allowance there is precious little to split the big two going into this race.
Zenta at 16/1 under Mark Walsh is a possible improver, while she beat Hypotenus (33/1) into second in a Fairyhouse Grade 3 recently and John McConnell's charge could improve for that.
Another race in which Ireland is holding an ace-hand seemingly. Filey Bay was denied by Aucunrisque in last month's Betfair Hurdle at Newbury but the front pair were a long way clear of everything else.
Emmet Mullins' charge is some 8lb higher for this assignment but could have more to give and he's rated a 9/2 chance for County Hurdle glory in the JP McManus silks.
Despite the tough nature of this race, Willie Mullins has won it four times since 2015 – including last time Grade 1 performer-in-the-making State Man.
He saddles the likes of top-weight Sharjah at 8/1, Winter Fog at 12/1 and Saint Sam at 28/1, though it's the booking of Paul Townend on the hat-trick seeking Hunters Yarn at 6/1 in the Simon Munir and Isaac Suede colours that have served him well this week that will catch many eyes.
Dan Skelton has trained two winners of this race since 2018 and he puts brother Harry on Pembroke now – he impressed in his wins at Wetherby and Ludlow over this sort of trip before a Grade 2 second at this course over 2m4½f (soft) on Trials Day in January.
The longest and most testing of the Grade 1 novice hurdles at the meeting, with this three-mile examination a real scrutiny on the stamina of the protagonists.
At the time of writing the first NINE in the betting are all trained in Ireland – this really could be a day of national celebration for those of the green persuasion in the Cotswolds.
They are headed by Gordon Elliott's Three Card Brag at 7/2, he races in the McNeill Family silks with retained rider Adrian Heskin on board and is one runner set to be thrilled by any rain seeping into the turf this week.
The Emmet Mullins-trained Corbetts Cross is 9/2 and was bought by JP McManus after winning the Grade 2 Johnstown Novice Hurdle at Naas last month – that was over two-miles but he's a hurdles winner on testing going at 2m5f/3m this season already.
Embassy Gardens (9/1) easily won at Thurles in January when stepped up to this sort of trip, though the Willie Mullins inmate has more on his plate upped in grade.
Hiddenvalley Lake at 10/1 for Henry De Bromhead and the Paul Nolan-trained Sandor Clegane at 12/1 add real depth to this race, while Rock My Way won a Grade 2 on Trials Day in January here over 2m4½f for Syd Hosie and, at , sits alongside Paul Nicholls' Stay Away Fay – second in the River Don at Doncaster over this trip in January but untested on slow ground – are the leading British challengers.
The big one – the Gold Cup itself with more than £350k to the winning connections and chance to join the greats of jumps game as a winner of this most sought-after prize.
Last year's winner A Plus Tard is 7/1 to retain his mantle, though he was pulled up in his only race since then at Haydock in November.
Supporters of Rachael Blackmore's partner will take heart from the form of Henry De Bromhead's charges this week already. The trainer also runs 2021 winner Minella Indo at 20/1.
Noble Yeats won the Grand National last season and is 9/1 for trainer Emmet Mullins to complete a rare double.
Conflated is a former Irish Gold Cup winner and 14/1 for Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell, while 9/1 Stattler won the National Hunt Cup here last season and will relish a proper test of stamina.
Protektorat is a Grade 1 winner this season for Dan and Harry Skelton, he's 14/1, while the Lucinda Russell-trained Ahoy Senor is 16/1 and tends to run his best races in the spring.
Hewick represents popular trainer Shark Hanlon and cost a mere £800 – he would be the fairytale story and is a 25/1 chance with his trainer sounding bullish.
The front two in the marker are Bravemansgame at 6/1 for Paul Nicholls and 15/8 Galopin Des Champs for Willie Mullins.
Britain's champion trainer last won this race with Kauto Star in 2009 and feels his King George winner is a big player despite the three-and-a-quarter-mile test worrying some onlookers.
Galopin Des Champs has only lost once over fences, when he slid to the turf here last season in the Turners after jumping the last with a commanding lead.
Paul Townend's mount is the one they all have to beat as Ireland looks for a fifth successive Gold Cup win.
Run over the same C&D as the Gold Cup, this is the big one for the amateur riders. Last year's winner Billaway is 10/1 and sports a pair of first-time blinkers now under Patrick Mullins for his father.
He won at Naas last time but is 11 years old now and perhaps not as good as he once was. Vaucelet is the coming star in the Hunter Chase sphere and trades at 11/4 to give trainer David Christie the win he craves in this race.
He only had a neck to spare over 20/1 Dorking Cock at Down Royal when they met at Christmas, the runner-up idling badly in front and costing himself the prize.
Jamie Codd rides The Storyteller (20/1) for Gordon Elliott, he was smart sort in his pomp but was behind that pair at Down Royal.
Chris's Dream has Maxine O'Sullivan on board and is 10/1 – she won this race on It Came To Pass for her father Eugene in 2020 and her cousin Mikey made headlines at the start of the week here.
Famous Clermont is 13/2 and has 2021 winning rider Will Biddick on board, they have been very impressive in wins at Wincanton and Haydock since early February.
Le Malin is 28/1 and form ties with Billaway lately, Noel McParlan is a good ally in the saddle for him, while 28/1 Black Op was once a smart staying chaser – seventh in the Gold Cup here in 2021 – and has been hoovering up wins in point-to-points since moving to his new trainer.
The Festival's newest race and Willie Mullins has mopped up both renewals so far with Colreevy and Elimay.
The latter runs again now under Mark Walsh and could be overpriced at 20/1 if getting back to form, while Riviere D'etel (18/1) was a smart novice taking on males last season and was beaten only by Queen Mother Champion Chase runner-up Captain Guinness on her comeback at Navan.
She wasn't as good at Carlisle next time in a race won by Zambella, a 25/1 shot here for Nigel Twiston-Davies and Daryl Jacob.
She, in turn, was put in her place by Jeremys Flame at Huntingdon in January and Gavin Cromwell's mare is 11/1 under Cross Country-winning rider Keith Donoghue.
Atop the market is Allegorie De Vassy at 5/4 for the Mullins/Townend axis. She's very talented but does tend to jump away to her right, a worry coming here.
Colm Murphy knows how to ready a Festival winner here and his Impervious is to maintain her perfect record over fences with regular partner Brian Hayes keeping the mount on the JP McManus-owned contender who saw her Cork win in December advertised by Dinoblue's second in the Grand Annual here on Wednesday.
The final call for Cheltenham 2023 is the Martin Pipe and it's Conditional Jockeys' to the fore. Given the week he has had, Mikey O'Sullivan's presence on 9/2 Spanish Harlem for Willie Mullins will be eye-catching to many.
The trainer has a record four wins in this, all since 2011. Gordon Elliott saddles 5/1 Imagine and 11/2 Cool Survivor, with Ben Harvey and Sam Ewing on board respectively.
Paul Nicholls saddles the aptly-named Irish Hill at 16/1 in what could be an attempt to stop a landslide for Irish trainer on this final day – which went 7-0 to the raiders in 2022.
Might I is a poke for trainer Harry Fry and a win here might finally stop him from holding his ignominious claim to fame so far in his career – he was sent off 6/4 favourite at Sandown in December 2021 to defeat a certain Constitution Hill!
He was second, of course, and has always threatened to land a big prize without delivering one. Lorcan Murtagh knows him well and they were second over 2m1f here in January. His best novice form from last season suggests this trip could be ideal.
Thursday is Stayers' Hurdle day in the Cotswolds as the Cheltenham Festival strides beyond halfway and into day three.
Gordon Elliott's Teahupoo is amongst the rising stars in the stayers' division and will be hoping to wrestle the crown off two-time winner Flooring Porter in the feature race.
Meanwhile, after Constitution Hill lived up to his billing earlier in the week Nicky Henderson will be hoping that Ryanair Chase (2.50) favourite Shishkin can do the same now.
We look ahead to day three in the Cotswolds with a reminder that you can follow all the Cheltenham Festival action via the bet365 live Sports Streaming Service throughout the week and also keep up to date with all the action via our Cheltenham Festival Live for all the Build Up, Previews and Tips for the action.
The day three opener is all about Elliott's unbeaten chaser Mighty Potter, 6/5 to continue his perfect march through the season by adding this prize. He's looked very good so far and is rated as one of the 'Irish bankers' of the meeting - though some punters will be wary that he didn't handle the occasion well in last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
Appreciate It is a former winner of that race and a talented sort, but he came unstuck at the Dublin Racing Festival last month and is 4/1 to bounce back in winning style for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend, while Joseph O'Brien's Banbridge, winner of an Arkle trial here earlier in the season, is 9/2.
Hopes of a home win for Britain sit with the likes of Nicky Henderson's Balco Coast (10/1), second to Gerri Colombe in last month's Scilly Isles at Sandown, and the Paul Nicholls-trained Stage Star (10/1), impressive winner of a handicap off top-weight here in January over a similar trip.
Hughie Morrison's Third Wind won this last year and stopped a run of six straight Irish successes. The raiding party is strong once more, with Maxxum at 7/1 give Elliott four wins in six years and Davy Russell his fourth success in this race since 2016.
David Pipe's hopes of a Festival winner this year could be satisfied by Thanksforthehelp (7/1) in the JP McManus hoops, though he's gone up 11lb in the ratings for his win at Chepstow recently.
The Changing Man (25/1) has been very consistent for Joe Tizzard in recent months and is an outsider of note, while plenty will be attracted to Nicky Henderson's Walking On Air at 13/2 in the wake of his smooth success at Exeter last month en route to qualifying for this.
Another big moment for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville with 5/6 Shishkin expected to take some stopping in the Ryanair following last month's return to form at Ascot.
That was a fine effort and showed he relishes the extra distance offered at this stage in his career, but it was a big effort too and just 26 days have gone by since so there are reasons to be cautious, potentially.
The likes of Blue Lord (11/2) and Janidil (7/1) for Willie Mullins, Fury Road (11/1) for Elliott and Envoi Allen (12/1) for Henry De Bromhead form a strong Irish challenge, while Jamie Snowden's Ga Law (20/1) and Hitman (25/1) for Paul Nicholls help to make this a more meaty race than the one in which Shishkin cruised to victory at Ascot last month.
Chacun Pour Soi meanwhile is taking one more swipe at finally landing a win around this famous venue and is now a 25/1 chance with Danny Mullins his partner for the first time in his career.
A terrific renewal of the Stayers' Hurdle as 11/2 Flooring Porter looks to emulate the likes of Inglis Drever and Big Buck's by capturing this prize for a third time.
He's controlled matters from the front under 'Canny Danny' Mullins in the last two years and it won't be easy to take his crown. Just like last year he hasn't won in between Cheltenham Festival's but Gavin Cromwell believes he's coming right again. Key player.
More so on paper than form winner Paisley Park (14/1) despite his Long Walk win on Boxing Day, age is against him now.
Hopes of a first French winner at this meeting since 2020 rely on the Cleeve Hurdle winner Gold Tweet at 10/1, while the admirable Dasher Drasher (25/1) chased him home in that January contest and could be a place threat again given his unerring consistency for Jeremy Scott no matter what test he is set.
Klassical Dream (8/1) goes well fresh and has form claims for Willie Mullins while 11/2 Home By The Lee has improved this season for Joseph O'Brien and has solid credentials of bettering last year's sixth in this.
The former is very talented and tailor-made for this, though connections are adamant his preparation hasn't gone smoothly. Davy Russell's mount meanwhile has been prepared beautifully and the unexposed three-miler looks a strong contender in this line-up.
So Scottish heads the betting for this tough contest at 10/3 for Emmet Mullins and has been acquired by JP McManus since finishing second at Ascot in November behind useful Boothill in a handicap off 8lb lower than this. He's got scope for better and had won both chase starts previous to that, though the market certainly hasn't overlooked his claims.
He has 23 rivals to worry about in this ultra-competitive line-up and they include Il Ridoto at 8/1 for Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden off a nice mark of 146, as well as Jamie Snowden's smart chaser Datsalrightgino at 11/1. He was second to Stage Star here in January and sports first-time cheekpieces now.
Top-weight goes to Haut En Couleurs for Willie Mullins. He was set to win a Grade 2 at Thurles in January only to come down at the last and has only given best to Janidil in the same grade since at Gowran Park. Man of the moment of Michael O'Sullivan rides, taking off 3lb, and they can be backed at 9/1 for Plate success.
For the most painful and obvious of reasons, this is a race Henry De Bromhead would dearly love to win and that's reflected in that fact he saddles five runners in a field of 21 - not something usually associated with the Knockeen handler.
Rachael Blackmore has pinned her colours to the mast with Foxy Girl, winner of a decent Limerick maiden hurdle in December and 16/1 to take this rise in class in her stride.
Magical Zoe won a Down Royal Grade 3 in November and was put away for his race afterwards. She's got a 5lb penalty to carry but looks a key player at 12/1 in De Bromhead's quest for glory.
Also penalised here, and dominating the market, is Nicky Henderson's Luccia at 13/8. She's won both starts over timber with real ease and was considered for the Supreme on Tuesday before connections settled on this race.
Another to look out for is Group 1-winning Flat performer Princess Zoe at 14/1. She was second in a Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in her pomp and started over hurdles with a dead-heat at Punchestown in January. Trainer Tony Mullins believes she has what it takes to leave her mark on this race.
This is a missing piece of the jigsaw for top amateur Patrick Mullins at this festival and it wouldn't be a shock if the aptly named 7/1 chance Mr Incredible was to tie things together for him, despite top-weight. He stays forever and hasn't been with Ireland's champion trainer long, so there's still room for improvement.
Fellow Irish raider Stumptown has been very popular in the antepost market and is now the 7/2 favourite for trainer Gavin Cromwell, while Elliott and Jamie Codd – always respected in these races - team up with Dunboyne at 10/1.
Nigel Twiston-Davies saddles one of the leading UK-based contenders in 10/1 Beauport, while November's course winner (3m1f) Anightinlambourn was in midst of a fine sequence at that point for Ben Pauling and trades at 12/1 to pick up where he left off having been kept fresh since.
Day two at the Cheltenham Festival features a fascinating Champion Chase as Energumene looks to cling onto his crown.
The Willie Mullins-trained champion was defeated here in January by re-opposing duo Editeur Du Gite and Edwardstone and their latest battle headlines Wednesday at The Festival.
Day two kicks off with the Ballymore and it features 6/4 favourite Impaire Et Passe, the horse everyone has been talking about during the Cheltenham preview nights it seems.
He's unbeaten in two starts for Willie Mullins and connections are seemingly very confident that he can land the day two opener as he steps up in trip.
The Irish challenge has depth, as it did in the Supreme on Tuesday, with DRF Grade 1 winner Good Land at 13/2 for Barry Connell and last year's Champion Bumper second American Mike at 40/1 for Gordon Elliott.
The home team will be looking to Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden in all probability here. Hermes Allen was extremely impressive in the Challow at Newbury over Christmas and trades at 10/3 to maintain his unbeaten ways for the Ditcheat duo in the race he has been targeted at all season.
The first of a pair of heavy duty novice chasers for Elliott appears here via Gerri Colombe, the 7/4 market leader with Jordan Gainford retaining the ride.
They won the Grade 1 Scilly Isles at Sandown last month and the manner of that success from Balco Coastal in second hints that this longer trip will suit. Gerri Colombe is unbeaten to this point, with two bumpers and two hurdles wins before his three chase successes this season.
Nearly half the field is trained by Willie Mullins, who saddles five of the 11 runners.
He has Adamantly Chosen (25/1), Bronn (40/1), I Am Maximus (66/1) and Ramillies (20/1), but it's last years' Ballymore winner Sir Gerhard (9/2) who got the nod from Paul Townend, despite having just one start over fences so far this season in a very weak beginners' event at Gowran Park in January where he cruised home.
This will be a far different test and his jumping must stand up to it.
This is a race where the British team have a strong say in terms of upsetting the hot-pot.
The Real Whacker (9/2) had been touted for a possible crack at the Gold Cup, but Yorkshire-based trainer Patrick Neville elected to stick to novice company.
His charge is 2-2 over fences and impressively won The Dipper novices chase here on New Year's Day over shorter, having scored early in the term over track and trip. Sam Twiston-Davies rides again now.
One of the first real cavalry charges of the meeting here as the Coral Cup is set to feature a full field of 26 runners rattling around Prestbury Park for just over two-and-a-half-miles.
The Charles Byrnes-trained Cesarewitch winner Run For Oscar heads the market at 7/1 but does have a career-high mark to defy now.
Last year's Triumph Hurdle second Fil Dor is 16/1 to defy top-weight for Elliott and Ben Harvey, while Philip Hobbs' Camprond is 8/1 and now rated 2lb lower than when finishing fourth in this contest a year ago.
Elliott and Davy Russell have 25/1 Sa Fureur in the mix, while other contenders include Dan Skelton's Langer Dan at 10/1 - second in the Martin Pipe here in 2021 behind Galopin Des Champs no less - and Good Risk At All at 12/1 looking to give Sam Thomas a first Festival winner here as a trainer.
Seven runners are set for an intriguing renewal of the Champion Chase, with three of them ready to re-engage in battle following a stunner here in the Clarence House in January.
That day, Editeur Du Gite was allowed to lead them around with perhaps Energumene and Edwardstone feeling Gary Moore's charge would be a soft touch when they needed to go by him late on, but it didn't quite work out like that.
Editeur Du Gite fended off their challenges in game fashion and is 11/2 to repeat the feat now. Last year's Arkle winner Edwardstone looked sure to pick him off but couldn't - Alan King's charge may fare better tactically now and is 6/4 market leader this time in his quest to become the fifth Arkle winner since 2010 to come back and win this race a year later.
Energumene didn't have his usual enthusiasm in that January race at any stage and was only third, trainer Willie Mullins citing the white fencing boards as mitigation. He's been getting used to them at home since but can he turn it around? Townend's mount is 13/8 to cling on to his crown.
Looking to stage an upset are the likes of Nube Negra at 20/1 for Dan Skelton, second in this in 2021, Nicholls' Greaneteen at 25/1 and last year's runner-up Funambule Sivola at 40/1 for Venetia Williams after a revitalised Game Spirit win at Newbury last month.
The likeable but limited Captain Guinness at 50/1 for Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore completes the field.
Delta Work quashed the dreams of Tiger Roll's army of fans last March, coming up the hill strongly to deny the little legend his farewell win. He's back bidding to retain the mantle now and is 6/5 in the hands of Keith Donoghue.
His main rival on the betting is, once more, another Elliott-trained runner in Galvin at 9/4 with Davy Russell on top. It will be their first time tackling this unique test.
Back On The Lash won here in January for local trainer Martin Keighley in a handicap but faces less favourable terms now and is 16/1 accordingly, while Patrick and Willie Mullins take a crack at landing this race - one of the few the Closutton team are missing - with 8/1 Franco De Port.
A tough handicap chase over the minimum two-mile trip and there will be no hanging around here.
The first four in the betting are Irish-trained, with Andy Dufresne at 5/1 for Elliott, Dinoblue at 5/1 for Willie Mullins, winning machine Final Orders 6/1 for Cromwell and 10/1 Coeur Sublime representing De Bromhead.
Perhaps notably, Blackmore partners 16/1 Epson Du Houx in the Gigginstown silks instead of stablemate Coeur Sublime.
Thomas and Sam Twiston-Davies team up with 20/1 Before Midnight, while Sizing Pottsie is a 25/1 chance to go in for Pipe. He has not quite sparked since joining the Pond House handler and gets a pair of cheekpieces fitted now.
The only race across four days here without jumps, but that won't simplify the Champion Bumper puzzle. A field of 24 are engaged and, seeking his record-extending 13th win and fourth on the trot, Willie Mullins accounts for a stunning ten of those.
Almost amazingly, they don't include the market leader. That honour is for John Kiely's impressive Dublin Racing Festival winner A Dream To Share at 7/2, now in the ownership of JP McManus following that Leopardstown win.
Patrick Mullins' hopes of a record-breaking fourth win in the race have been pinned on Fact To File. Townend rides It's For Me and Blackmore - who won this race on Sir Gerhard for Ireland's champion trainer in 2021 - has picked up the ride on Western Diego.
Elliott has Better Days Ahead at 12/1 under Jamie Codd, as well as No Time To Wait, King Of Kingsfield and Samui in his four-strong squad.
It is day one of the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday and, while the Irish are looking strong once again, legendary trainer Nicky Henderson may attempt to form a one-man British blockade early on.
Henderson has three leading hopes in Grade 1 races via Jonbon, Constitution Hill and Marie's Rock and the Seven Barrows supremo has plenty of history for doing well on the Tuesday of The Festival.
A strong field of 14 contenders will face the tapes and hear the famous Cheltenham roar when the Supreme Novices' Hurdle gets underway.
Facile Vega was the long-time antepost hot-pot for this race but has major questions to answer after his Dublin Racing Festival blowout last time. He's 5/2 for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend now.
Stablemate Il Etait Temps took full advantage last month at Leopardstown and is trading at 9/2 to uphold that form, while High Definition is 12/1 having unseated JJ Slevin in the same race. He's a high-class Flat horse and could be dangerous if left in front on his own here, while few will want to cut out the running with him, given how doing just that appeared to empty the tank on Facile Vega five weeks ago.
Dark Raven (33/1) and Diverge (16/1) are possible outsiders for Team Mullins with a role to play, while Gordon Elliott's Doctor Bravo (20/1) and Henry De Bromhead's Inthepocket (12/1) are other potential Irish hopes alongside Barry Connell's exciting Royal Bond winner Marine Nationale at 4/1.
Tahmuras is a Grade 1 winner this season for Paul Nicholls and at 9/1 the leading British contender in the market, while Olly Murphy's unbeaten 20/1 shot Chasing Fire shouldn't be dismissed in haste as he rises in class either.
The second race of the afternoon and Henderson begins his attempt to quell the Irish runners single-handedly.
Jonbon's only defeat in his career came when he was second to stablemate Constitution Hill here last spring in the Supreme. He's looked very good over fences, despite a scare in the Kingmaker last month, and is 7/4 to maintain his perfect record as a chaser by giving his Seven Barrows trainer a record-extending eighth win in this race.
El Fabiolo impressed everyone in last month's Irish Arkle and is shading favouritism now for Mullins and Townend as a result at 13/8. He has done well this season but he was defeated by Jonbon in a Grade 1 Aintree novice hurdle last season.
Hollow Games is a 33/1 chance for the Elliott/Davy Russell alliance while remaining British-trained challengers Straw Fan Jack (66/1), Effernock Fizz (100/1) and Ballybreeze (150/1) have mountains to climb.
A race that Britain can seemingly count on, with no Irish-trained winner since Dun Doire in 2006.
Last year's winner Corach Rambler is just 6lb higher now and has attracted strong market support of late for Lucinda Russell – he's 7/1 to become the fourth horse to retain this race.
Completing the podium last spring were Happygolucky for Kim Bailey and the Oscar Elite, then trained by Colin Tizzard and now handled by his successor and son, Joe. That pair are 14/1 and 11/1 respectively for the win this time.
Into Overdrive was second to L'homme Presse in Newcastle's Rehearsal Chase in November, with Happygolucky just behind, and is 8/1 for trainer Mark Walford, while Olly Murphy's The Wolf (33/1) and Gary Moore's Nassalam (9/1) are other potential home hopes.
If the Irish are to get an overdue win in this race, Elliott's Dublin Racing Festival winner The Goffer at 14/1 could be an ally for them.
The coronation of a king anyone? Time will tell but Constitution Hill is 4/11 for Champion Hurdle glory and set to be the shortest-priced favourite of the meeting.
Last year's record-breaking Supreme Novices' winner has gone from strength to strength since and, so far, no rival has finished even with 10 lengths of Nice de Boinville's partner.
He's set to give Henderson a record-extending ninth Champion Hurdle win and few will be sticking their necks out to take him on.
Irish Champion Hurdle winner State Man has emerged as the key danger and is 10/3 after defeating Honeysuckle at Leopardstown last month. He made all that afternoon but will he try and dominate Constitution Hill now?
Vauban, last year's Triumph Hurdle winner, has typically found the move into the senior ranks tough this season but is 14/1 next best in the betting, while Greatwood Hurdle and Kingwell scorer I Like To Move It at 20/1 for Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies might be the one for each-way players.
This looks to be the best quality Mares' Hurdle that has ever been run. Between them, 7/2 Honeysuckle and 5/1 Epatante have won three Champion Hurdles, no less, but they have been scared off by the mighty Constitution Hill this time around.
Can Honeysuckle sign her career off with one more famous Cotswolds win? She's 3-3 at this festival, including winning this race in 2020 before those back-to-back Champion Hurdles.
Heading the market is 11/4 Marie's Rock, winner of this last year and another key part of the Henderson jigsaw on day one. She was being touted for a go at the Stayers' Hurdle but instead comes here.
Toss in last year's Mares' Novices' Hurdle winner Love Envoi (9/1), talented Brandy Love (6/1) and the likes of Echoes In Rain (10/1), Queens Brook (20/1) and Shewearsitwell (20/1) and this becomes a race laced with quality.
Rider Mark Walsh won this race last year on Brazil and there's another JP McManus contender heading the betting now in the form of Tekao, 9/2 to score for Willie Mullins. He has lots of potential but is facing a tough challenge in this 22-runner cavalry charge.
The eye-catching booking of Rachael Blackmore will draw plenty attention to stable debutant Bad at 8/1 for Ben Pauling and he impressed last time over hurdles in France.
Gary Moore's Perseus Way looked the most likely winner of last month's Adonis Hurdle at Kempton had he jumped the last better (finished second) and could be let in handy here off a mark of 132 - he's trading at 12/1.
A proper stamina test to round things off on day one. Patrick and Willie Mullins have won this together twice since 2018 and it's hard to believe they've come with a stronger contender than Grade 1-winning second-season novice Gaillard Du Mesnil, the 1/1 favourite.
He's part of a strong Irish contingent that includes Chemical Energy at 6/1 for Elliot and Jamie Codd, Mahler Mission for trainer John McConnell at 6/1 and another Elliott inmate, Minella Crooner, at 7/1.
Top amateur Derek O'Connor is always one to look out for in these races and he's on board 10/1 Mister Coffey - who could be seeking to round off a big afternoon for Henderson if things have gone his way to this point.