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Willie Mullins adds another challenger to Champion Hurdle field at a cost of £22k

Ante-post favourite Epatante remains among the 19 runners for Tuesday’s showpiece.

Cilaos Emery: winner at Gowran last month.
Cilaos Emery: winner at Gowran last month.
Image: PA

CILAOS EMERY WAS the only horse supplemented at the six-day confirmation stage for the Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

Trainer Willie Mullins opted to add the eight-year-old to the field, after Cilaos Emery staked his claim for honours with an easy victory in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran last month.

It was his first run over hurdles for more than two years, after being campaigned over fences.

Mullins also has Sharjah among the 19 horses in contention for the Festival’s first-day showpiece.

Ante-post favourite Epatante remains on course. Trainer Nicky Henderson revealed a minor coughing scare with the Christmas Hurdle winner, but was confident she would make the race.

The JP McManus-owned mare is among five probables for the Seven Barrows trainer, who is seeking an eighth win in the two-mile championship.

His other hopefuls are last year’s Triumph Hurdle victor Pentland Hills, Call Me Lord, Fusil Raffles and Verdana Blue.

Henry de Bromhead has left in Irish Champion Hurdle heroine Honeysuckle, though she has been earmarked for the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle on the same card instead.

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Darver Star and Petit Mouchoir, who were second and third respectively to Honeysuckle at Leopardstown, stand their ground.

Evan Williams’ Silver Streak is set to try again after finishing third at odds of 80-1 last year, while Micky Hammond’s surprise Fighting Fifth Hurdle victor Cornerstone Lad is another in the mix.

Completing the list are Ballyandy, Coeur Sublime, Darasso, Gumball, Le Patriote, Not So Sleepy and Supasundae.

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