Just about every top-quality staying-chaser in Britain will take part, headed by the current Gold Cup holder Bobs Worth.
Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old only ran twice last season but he won the Hennessy at Newbury and the biggest prize in steeplechasing.
Stablemate Long Run, himself a Gold Cup winner and twice successful in the King George, also takes part but needs to put behind him a disappointing reappearance at Wetherby.
Last year’s winner Silviniaco Conti is one of two representatives for Paul Nicholls, and will be ridden by Noel Fehily, with stable jockey Daryl Jacob heading to Ascot. Tidal Bay, the mount of Sam Twiston-Davies, will also represent Nicholls after returning from injury with a second win in the West Yorkshire Hurdle.
Dynaste runs for David Pipe after skipping the Paddy Power Gold Cup last weekend.
Jockey Tom Scudamore has drawn comparisons with his task to Saturday night’s super-middleweight showdown between Carl Froch and George Groves.
Not dissimilar to the unbeaten Groves, who challenges Froch for his IBF and WBA belts in Manchester, Scudamore believes the David Pipe-trained grey is the young pretender in what promises to be a star-studded encounter at Haydock at the weekend.
Froch, by contrast, was likened by the rider to a clutch of high-class and streetwise chasers in the field.
Dynaste, winner of the Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton last season, skipped the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in preference to the Grade One on Merseyside.
Scudamore told the Daily Mail: “We could have gone for the Paddy Power Gold Cup but David felt this was the best option for Dynaste.
“We wanted to take on the big boys and see where we are.
“It’s a bit like the fight at the weekend. We are like Groves.
“We are taking on horses which have been there and done it. We think we are good enough but we will find out in Saturday.
“We have 21lb to find with Bobs Worth and five with The Giant Bolster, who was fourth in the Gold Cup, but we know we have a good horse.”
Last season’s Ryanair Chase hero Cue Card is likely to strip fitter for his comeback run at Exeter. The Giant Bolster, second and fourth in the last two Gold Cups, will be saddled by David Bridgwater. The sole Irish runner is Gordon Elliott’s Grade One winner Roi De Mee, who had Sizing Europe behind him when victorious at Down Royal last time out.