Faugheen will be primed to try to regain his Unibet Champion Hurdle crown at the Cheltenham Festival.
Injury forced the 2015 hero on to the sidelines for the best part of two years, but he looked as good as ever when making a successful comeback in the Morgiana Hurdle.
He blotted his copybook at Leopardstown over Christmas, but at least then ran respectably when second to Supasundae in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
"It was great that he came out and won the Morgiana and you think everything is great," said trainer Willie Mullins, who could also saddle Yorkhill, Melon and Wicklow Brave in the Champion Hurdle.
"He ran a grand race the last day, a lot better than Christmas, but he'll have to up his game to go and win in Cheltenham.
"He mightn't need to be as good as he once was and I still think he's competitive. We haven't gone downhill, anyway - we're going up.
"Faugheen might never come back to what he was. I'm delighted he was what he was. He might come back to that, but age is not on his side."
Footpad has run well without winning at the last two Festivals but heads there this year as possibly the Mullins banker in the Arkle.
"He always had ability but his jumping has catapulted him right to the top over fences," said the champion trainer.
"I see him as a potential Gold Cup horse as he stays. It's never stopped horses going that route, running in the Arkle. We don't have any problems with him staying.
"He's just a natural jumper, gets to the other side quickly and has no fear."
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