The nine-year-old landed the race in 2012 and 2014 and is a short-priced favourite to complete the treble.
Silviniaco Conti claimed a second successive King George VI Chase win following last year’s Haydock verdict, but he again disappointed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup before bouncing back to form with a Grade One win at Aintree.
Returned to hurdles for his return this term, the Dom Alco gelding finished second to Brother Tedd at Kempton earlier this month and Nicholls believes that was the perfect springboard for the Grade One on Merseyside.
He said: “He ran very well the other day at Kempton and there was no way he was going to win carrying 11st 12lb with five flights of hurdles in front of him.
“He was not far forwards enough to run in the Charlie Hall Chase (at Wetherby last month) but he has improved enormously for the run and that is that best thing we ever did running him at Kempton.
“He’s not missed a beat since running there and the soft ground and flat track at Haydock is made for him.”
There were just seven horses remaining following the confirmation stage.
As well as Silviniaco Conti, the other previous winner in the line-up is 2013 scorer Cue Card, who returned to form with a convincing victory over Dynaste in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on his reappearance.
The David Pipe-trained Dynaste, placed in this race for the last two years, stands his ground as he looks to make it third-time lucky.
He could be joined by stablemate Ballynagour, who was third in the Charlie Hall.
Menorah, second last year, has been left in by his trainer Philip Hobbs, as has the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Holywell, who was fifth in the Charlie Hall on his first run since April.
Completing the seven possibles is 2014 RSA Chase winner O’Faolains Boy, who has been sidelined since April last year but recently had a racecourse gallop.