STATE Man could face a new opponent for the first time at the Dublin Racing Festival, with Henry de Bromhead indicating that Bob Olinger is on course for a tilt at next week’s Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle.

Robcour’s dual Cheltenham Festival winner showed plenty of his old spark when bolting up in the Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle on New Year’s Day at Cheltenham, making it two wins from two starts this season. A return to Grade 1 company is now on the cards for the top-priced 10/1 shot.

Speaking from Gowran Park on Thursday after capturing the Goffs Thyestes Chase, de Bromhead said: “He was brilliant at Cheltenham. It was great to see him somewhere near his best and he’s really good at the moment. He worked well this morning.

“I think we’re leaning towards the Irish Champion Hurdle but nothing is confirmed yet.

“He didn’t look far off his best at Cheltenham and I’d say he jumped as well as he’s ever jumped. It looked bleak for a while so it’s brilliant to get him back. It’s a real team effort from everyone involved to get him back.”

Patrick Mullins also indicated on Thyestes Day that his father’s big guns, including Matheson Hurdle one-two State Man and Impaire Et Passe, are in good order ahead of the Dublin Racing Festival.

Champion’s power

The Closutton team has a host of short-priced chances in the meeting’s Grade 1s, including State Man at 1/4, El Fabiolo at 1/3 in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase, Galopin Des Champs at 2/5 in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup and Ballyburn at 11/10 in the Tattersalls Ireland 50th Derby Sale Novice Hurdle.

The champion trainer also has 6/4 favourite Storm Heart in the McCann FitzGerald Spring Juvenile Hurdle, 2/1 market leader Predators Gold in the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle and the top four in the betting for the Ladbrokes Novice Chase, headed up by Fact To File (7/4) and Grangeclare West (2/1).

“We worked plenty of horses this morning, including Galopin Des Champs, who worked well under Paul [Townend],” said Patrick Mullins.

“El Fabiolo is probably going to re-route there now from the Clarence House to the Dublin Chase. State Man and Impaire Et Passe, all the big guns will be out.

“Looking at our novice chasers, there’s Gaelic Warrior, Grangeclare West, Facile Vega - we can’t wait now. Hopefully they all just stay in one piece until next weekend. We’ll find out more about them then.”