Finger aims to outpoint Gold rivals
Tom Taaffe's Finger Onthe Pulse features among a final field of 16 for the Vote AP Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.
The 2008 Jewson winner is poised to be ridden by Tony McCoy in the race named in honour of the 15-times champion's quest to be crowned the BBC Sports Personality of the Year later in the month.
Ireland's strong case for top honours also includes Duers, Gonebeyondrecall and the Tony Martin duo of Northern Alliance and Psycho.
Dancing Tornado, prominent in the betting following his Paddy Power Gold Cup second, was a surprise withdrawal. Michael Hourigan's nine-year-old is not quite firing on all cylinders.
"Michael just wasn't happy with him after work on Wednesday morning, so he didn't send him across," said Frank Berry, racing manager for owner JP McManus.
"It's a long way to come with a horse if they're not 100% right so we'll get him back and hopefully he'll be out again in the new year."
The Nicky Henderson-trained Dave's Dream is ante-post favourite for the Grade Three handicap following a bloodless seasonal debut at Prestbury Park in November.
Henderson is also responsible for Mad Max, fourth in the Paddy Power Gold Cup behind Little Josh, who reopposes for the Nigel Twiston-Davies team. Twiston-Davies has a strong hand, with Cheltenham Festival winner Pigeon Island running from out of the handicap.
Paul Nicholls' Poquelin will carry top weight and is joined in the line-up by classy stablemate Robinson Collonges. David Pipe is also double-handed with Great Endeavour and Matuhi.
Nicky Richards' Noble Alan is set to line up, with Calgary Bay and Sunnyhillboy also in the shake-up.