AFARAD heads the sponsors' betting at 4 to 1 for Saturday's Ladbroke Hurdle at Leopardstown after 23 horses stood their ground yesterday. However, Christy Roche's five-year-old shares 6 to 1 favouritism with Knife Edge in William Hill's list.
Afarad, third behind Katarino in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, and an easy winner on his reappearance at Naas in November, is 2lb out of the handicap currently headed by Theatreworld on 11st 12lb.
Aidan O'Brien's charge will carry top weight in the Grade One contest following the defection of Limestone Lad, with the weights set to rise by 10lb.
All the leading fancies stand their ground including the Michael O'Brien-trained Knife Edge who appeared set to chase Istabraq home at Leopardstown last week before sprawling at the final flight and eventually finishing fifth.
Derrymoyle, Golden Rule and last year's winner Archive Footage, who finished ahead of Knife Edge in Istabraq's race, are also in the two-mile race.
There are three possible British raiders including the Nicky Henderson-trained Geos, third behind Copeland in the William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Sandown last month. The five-year-old will be ridden by Barry Geraghty. Henderson said: "I'd hope he'd have a good chance. He loves soft ground - he's a French horse so he is used to it - he ran a good race at Sandown the other day and I think he's got a great chance.
"He's got 9-12 - he's only a small horse so a little weight will help him a lot. Mr Geraghty will ride him. . . I've spoken to Jessica Harrington and she told me he's the man I need."