Kim Bailey has put a line through the second half of last season for Imperial Aura and is anticipating a bold show in the Betfair Chase.
The eight-year-old began the last campaign with wins at Carlisle and Kempton, but things did not go to plan after Christmas.
He unseated David Bass at Kempton and was then pulled up at the Cheltenham Festival, where he ran in the Ryanair Chase.
A valid excuse emerged for that, however, and Bailey expects a better performance – although the likes A Plus Tard, Bristol De Mai and Champ await on Merseyside.
“At Cheltenham I’ve never seen horses go that fast in my life and he ended up breaking a blood vessel, probably from the stress of going that quick. But he jumped well at Cheltenham until he got tired,” said Bailey.
“He has had a breathing operation over the summer and seems in a really good place. I think you just have to walk away from the second half of last season.
“He has always been a horse that I felt would be better over a longer trip, though he is quite a quick horse. Going back up to three miles shouldn’t be a problem. It is a flat track at Haydock and I think the race will suit him.
“Is he good enough? God only knows, but at the end of it he is a very talented individual and he has got serious ability.
“I’m happy with him. I don’t know what the opposition will be like yet but I’m hopeful that he will run a big race.”
He added: “I very much like to think Imperial Aura will win a Grade One. Whether that is the Betfair Chase, I don’t know. I would be delighted if it is, but hopefully there would be one in him at some stage of his career.”