Willie Mullins is looking to take advantage of the Group One showpiece being without its last two winners.
The County Carlow handler is three-handed with Ballycasey, Felix Yonger and Twinlight while his brother Tom supplies a fourth Irish possible in dual Cheltenham Festival winner Alderwood.
Paul Nicholls, who has won the race eight times, has put in Dodging Bullets and Hinterland, winner of the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase over the course and distance last year.
The first three home in Exeter’s Haldon Gold Cup – God’s Own, Balder Succes and Oscar Hill – could renew rivalry while the fifth and sixth that day, Pepite Rose and Somersby, have also been given entries. Hinterland was pulled up in that contest.
The enigmatic Mad Moose, who refused to race properly in this 12 months ago, could make his return after his ban from racing because of his antics was lifted.
Claret Cloak, Oscar Whisky, Third Intention, Vukovar, William’s Wishes and Wishfull Thinking complete the entries.
The Tom George-trained God’s Own is still a novice and also holds an entry in the Racing Post Henry VIII Novices’ Chase on the same card, but showed at Exeter that he is up taking on the big boys.
His jockey Paddy Brennan is expecting another bold show at the weekend.
“I’m really looking forward to Saturday. God’s Own is a horse we hold in high regard and everything seems to be right for him,” Brennan said.
“We are just hoping for a dry week. The better the ground, the better his chance. Good to soft, soft would be perfect.
“I really like this horse. He’s tough, he’s brave and I’m really hoping he can step up to Grade One level.
“He’s been taken along slowly. There’s never a fluke when you win a Grade Two Haldon Gold Cup. He’s proved he’s above average and he’s a horse that can go further, I think.”
Meanwhile Sgt Reckless, who created a good impression when making a successful debut over fences at Uttoxeter, is among 10 entries for the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase also at Sandown on Saturday.
Mick Channon’s charge is owned by the Radford family, whose Somersby won this race in 2009.
Among possible rivals in this Grade One over two miles include the Paul Nicholls-trained duo of Irish Saint and Vibrato Valtat.
Irish trainer Gordon Elliott is also twin-handed with Arzembouy Premier and Clarcam. There is a third Irish entry in Alechi Inois from Willie Mullins’ stable, but he was pulled up in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
Tom George has given God’s Own the entry but he is more likely to take on the seasoned two-mile chasers in the Tingle Creek.
Evan Williams has put in Court Minstrel, who has won both his races over the bigger obstacles in good style.
The same applies to Philip Hobbs’ Dunraven Storm, who defeated Vibrato Valtat at Cheltenham last time.
Tango De Juilley, trained by Venetia Williams, makes up the 10 after winning well on his return at Kempton after 20 months off.
Cue Card is on course to attempt to make amends for his agonising defeat in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton on St Stephen’s Day.
Colin Tizzard’s stable star was caught close home by Silviniaco Conti in last year’s Christmas cracker when he faded quite rapidly from the second last fence after making the running.
Cue Card did not race again last term but has had two runs already this campaign and is reported to be in fine shape despite finishing fourth behind Silviniaco Conti in his defence of his Betfair Chase crown at Haydock last month.
“He’s come out of Haydock absolutely fine. He had a good blow up there. You’ve got to be 110% in those races. He’ll have his day again, no doubt about it,” said Tizzard’s son and assistant, Joe.
“He’ll go to the King George then we shall re-think after that. He’s physically A1 which is the main thing.”