THE puzzles don't come any trickier than the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle.
Willie Mullins could have the key pieces though and punters may have to trust he can work his magic on a new recruit.
His CANARDIER ticks a lot of boxes and is ready to kick on now in the care of the master and on an attractive mark.
He's won over course and distance as a novice and was fifth in this race last year when not quite getting the rub of the green.
Chasing was not to be his game and now back over hurdles at a track he goes well on, with conditions to suit, he should be very, very competitive and looks a cracking each-way dart.
Danny Mullins is in the saddle and will be hopeful of a maiden Festival winner.
Both Protektorat and Dame De Compagnie have big shouts for the home team too.
Dan Skelton has always eyed up this race for his Protektorat and soft underfoot conditions are ideal.
He's another course winner and lightly-raced. 144 does not look overly harsh and his Grade 2 run last time was encouraging.
Nicky Henderson won this race last season and his mare looks primed for this too. She bolted in last time and 140 appeals as generous.
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Look out for the betting with her as JP McManus also has Birchdale and Alfa Mix who both are live chances in the same silks.
Champagne Well is a hardy horse and likes it here. Paddy Brennan rides the hurdles course well and form behind Thyme Hill now looks very strong.
Of those at big each-way prices he makes most appeal.
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