Whilst most eyes will be heading to Kempton Park on Boxing Day for the hotly-anticipated King George VI Chase, there will be a scintillating four-day card kicking off on Friday afternoon at Leopardstown, where a host of top class National Hunt stars will do battle in some mouth-watering races. We look at the bumper festival of action which will bring some Christmas cheer to the Irish scene.
The feature event will take place on Sunday afternoon as the Grade 1 Lexus Chase will attract a stellar line-up with Nicky Henderson's Bobs Worth aiming to kick off his season on a winning note, as he embarks on a quest to recapture his Cheltenham Gold Cup crown in March.
Henderson's Seven Barrows wonder will have a plehtora of homegrown talent to beat in this vintage renewal and reigning Gold Cup hero Lord Windermere is a prominent figure in a wide open betting heat, whilst Boston Bob and the fast-improving Road To Riches add more strength in depth to the home team's launch at the prize.
One of the most eagerly-awaited appearances will come on Boxing Day itself as the electric Vautour will aim to enhance his already lofty reputation in the Ryanair Novice Chase, as he aims to topple stablemate Un De Sceaux off top spot in the 2015 Arkle Challenge Trophy betting.
A host of Cheltenham Festival clues will emerge from this jamboree of top class equine jumping action, but on Monday afternoon two stalwarts of the hurdling arena will do battle once again in what is a fascinating renewal of the Ryanair Hurdle.
Three-times winner Hurricane Fly produced an exquisite display when landing the Morgiana Hurdle on his first start of the season and the veteran dual Champion Hurdle winner will be aiming to emulate that display where he beaten reigning Champion Jezki with an exhilirating turn of foot.
However, Jezki fans will believe their pride and joy can reignite on a trip back to Leopardstown and whilst he is second in the betting to the aforementioned Willie Mullins-trained legend, he showed at Cheltenham in March that on his day he is a top class hurdler and this could potentially be one of the premier treats over the festive period.
Other races of note over the four days include the Dial-A-Bet Chase, which could see Alan King's Uxizandre head over to the Emerald Isle to grab the prize, whilst the abovementioned Mullins will saddle an array of exciting novice hurdlers with Kalkir and Nichols Canyon just a brace of names that can do the business as the week progresses.
The Topaz Novice Chase and Christmas Hurdle will be another couple of Graded events that will shake up a host of Cheltenham Festival ante-post markets, whilst the Paddy Power Chase will be one of the toughest betting conundrums, but one thing is for sure is that the Irish action is sure to be the gift that keeps on giving.