Footpad is the potential star among just five runners in Saturday’s Frank Ward Solicitors Irish Arkle at Leopardstown.
Just behind the very best hurdlers on a number of occasions last season, Willie Mullins’ six-year-old has not put a foot wrong in two outings over fences this term and is already a strong favourite for the Arkle at Cheltenham in March.
He faces Henry de Bromhead’s Petit Mouchoir, winner of last year’s Irish Champion Hurdle and a victor on his chasing debut in October, although he has been off the track with a problem since that outing.
Mullins also runs the JP McManus-owned Demi Sang, a French import who won on his debut for the yard last month.
Gordon Elliott is represented by Tycoon Prince, who was impressive in a beginners’ chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, while Ted Walsh runs the useful Any Second Now.