SADLY, last year's Champion Hurdle hero Espoir D'Allen is no longer with us.
But we have an intriguing renewal of the historic race this year, with a huge field of 17 set to line-up at 3.30 on Tuesday.
Epatante heads the betting, and she was undeniably impressive when winning the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.
She is a mare with a lot of speed and the suspicion is she will be best-suited to a flatter track, and she bombed out badly when well-fancied for last year's Mares' Novice here.
Pentland Hills traded at long odds-on in running before being caught close home by Ballyandy at Haydock last time.
He has been far too keen in both of his starts so far this winter and, although he has had a wind op, he isn't one for maximum faith. You also have to question the strength of last year's Triumph Hurdle.
The supplemented Cilaos Emery is a fascinating contender, and he won comfortably at Gowran back over timber last time.
He has to enter calculations, as does Ballyandy, who has found a new lease of life dropped back to 2m this campaign.
But SUPASUNDAE makes plenty of each-way appeal for Champion Hurdle-winning trainer Jessie Harrington.
He boasts plenty of rock-solid Grade 1 form and lowered the colours of Buveur D'Air at Aintree last spring.
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He also has winning form at the Festival, having claimed the 2017 Coral Cup, and he shaped with promise when fourth in the Irish Champion Hurdle on his return from a lay-off.
The likely soft ground will suit him and they should go a strong gallop which will bring his stamina into play.
Darver Star is going the right way and shouldn't be taken lightly for last year's winning handler Gavin Cromwell.
If the ground came up very testing, Cornerstone Lad could make his presence felt at huge odds. He wasn't beaten far by Ballyandy and Pentland Hills conceding weight – don't underestimate him.
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