Darlan tops Cheltenham weights
Champion Hurdle possible Darlan and veteran Snap Tie head the weights for Sunday's Racing Post Hurdle at Cheltenham after 26 runners stood their ground at the six-day confirmation stage.
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An impressive winner over Captain Conan at Aintree in April when last seen on the racecourse, Supreme Novices' Hurdle runner-up Darlan has been left at the top of the handicap by the defection of Raya Star from the contest.
His trainer, Nicky Henderson, could also be represented by Cash And Go, while Paul Nicholls has left in Saturday's Wincanton runner-up Prospect Wells, Ted Spread and Dark Lover.
Snap Tie will need to defy an absence of more than six months if he is to score, but showed when returning from two and a half years off for his latest Punchestown success that coming back off a break need not prove an obstacle.
A strong-looking Irish contingent includes the Charles Byrnes-trained Domination and Cause Of Causes from Gordon Elliott's yard.
Charles Byrnes said of Domination: "The plan is for him to run. We gave him a break after Newmarket and he seems in good form."
"He's probably got it all to do in a race like this, but we'll go there hoping for the best.
"We'd like a bit of decent ground for him."
Blue Bajan, sixth in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket last month at the end of a busy spell on the Flat, could return to hurdling for the first time since finishing down the field in Newbury's Totesport Trophy back in February 2010.
The progressive Hi Dancer, winner of his last three starts, could represent the north. Olofi and Moon Dice, second and fourth respectively in this race behind Brampour 12 months ago, are also out for compensation. Final declarations for the race will be made on Friday morning.