Bristol De Mai faces seven rivals in his quest to earn a record-equalling fourth victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained grey has taken the Grade One prize three times – in 2017, 2018 and 2020 – and bids to equal the mighty Kauto Star, who was successful in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011.
There is strong opposition, including Henry de Bromhead’s A Plus Tard, who makes his first appearance since filling the runner-up spot behind stablemate Minella Indo in last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Chatham Street Lad, trained by Mick Winters, is the other Irish-trained contender.
Paul Nicholls, who has won the Betfair Chase on a record six occasions, saddles second-season novice Next Destination.
Waiting Patiently has not won since beating Cue Card in the 2018 Ascot Chase, but Christian Williams has been positive about his well-being ahead of his first start for the yard.
The Venetia Williams-trained Royale Pagaille won the Peter Marsh Chase by 16 lengths over the course and distance last season and returns to Merseyside this weekend.
The field is completed by Clondaw Castle (Tom George) and Imperial Aura (Kim Bailey), with Native River the only withdrawal at the 48-hour final declaration stage.