Views from connections ahead of the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Sunday.
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Carlingford Lough has just two rivals standing in his way as he goes for consecutive Grade One triumphs in the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Sunday.
The eight-year-old, trained John Kiely, lifted the Topaz Novice Chase over three miles on this course in late December and had previously gone down by a length and three-quarters to Don Cossack in the two-and-a-half-mile Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.
He has the chance to take his revenge on his conqueror, while the third member of the field is Ballycasey, who represents Willie Mullins instead of Champagne Fever.
Frank Berry, racing manager to Carlingford Lough's owner JP McManus, said: "There are just three runners, but it's a cracking race. Three good horses and it's anybody's race.
"He put up a good performance the last day. Don Cossack beat him before and Ballycasey is a good horse, so it will be a cracking race. He's well and John Kiely is happy with him."
Jockey Ruby Walsh is expecting a "big performance" from Ballycasey, who made a fine start to life over fences at Navan in November but has since suffered a setback.
Walsh told the Irish Examiner: "There are only three runners now, but this is a cracking contest and the tactics are going to be interesting.
"I'd imagine one horse who won't make it (the running) anyway is Carlingford Lough, so it will be left to myself and Bryan Cooper on Don Cossack.
"Ballycasey lacks the experience of the other two, but I'm still anticipating a big performance. He gave himself a bit of a knock when winning over two miles and a furlong on his debut over fences at Navan, but is back in good shape.
"Ballycasey scored by eight lengths that day, over a trip that was way too short. He is taking high order in the betting for Cheltenham, more on reputation than anything else, but I think he'll give his prospects a decent boost."