JP McManus has always had a sensational record in this race, and has won the last two runnings, with Yanworth and most recently Buveur D'Air.
He looks hard to stop again, having already dismissed three of his closest pursuers in the division in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle earlier this month. Last year, it was just a walk in the park for the now Dual Champion Hurdler, who was relatively unchallenged by three classy rivals on their day, but no threat to Nicky Henderson's superstar.
This year should be much more competitive, with the likes of If The Cap Fits and Summerville Boy potentially providing better competition. They will also be hoping to end the Nicky Henderson domination in total, as he has won this race five times in the last fifteen years.
Fourteen of the last sixteen winners had raced within the last six weeks, with the same number winning at least four times over hurdles before. This proves in the top band racing, rarely do such freaks occur, with also ten of the last sixteen winning their most recent outing.
Half of the last sixteen winners ran in the Fighting Fifth last time out at Newcastle, and one less had run over hurdles on the flatter track at Kempton in the past.
Ten of the last sixteen winners went on as guessed to the Champion Hurdle in March, with Faugheen in 2015 and Buveur D'Air earlier this year, both winning the Festival showpiece. Eight of the last sixteen winners finished in the top five in the opening day hurdle feature.
Nine of the last sixteen winners were favourites, with an extra four finishing in the places. 13 of the last sixteen winners had also returned at 11/4 or shorter in the betting.
Ireland have a very good record in this contest, despite a similar contest in Ireland over the Festive period. Horses such as Faugheen have made the trip to South London a memorable one. In total, Ireland have won half the fixtures in the last sixteen years. Noel Meade has had four winners, Jonjo O'Neill has two along with Willie Mullins.