Kauto Star will face five rivals on his first attempt over three miles in Saturday’s Betfair Chase at Haydock.
Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old bolted up at Aintree on his seasonal reappearance and is set to make his eagerly-awaited return in the Grade One contest.
Kauto Star will then be aimed at the King George VI Chase at Kempton if all goes to plan at the weekend.
Charlie Hall fourth Kingscliff and Beef Or Salmon, first and second respectively in the Betfair Chase 12 months ago, are also engaged.
The latter, trained by Michael Hourigan, is on a high after registering his ninth victory at the highest level when lowering the colours of Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition at Down Royal.
Iris’s Gift had a confidence-boosting round of clear jumping in the Charlie Hall and takes his chance, while L’Ami, fourth in last season’s King George and Gold Cup, makes one of his frequent trips across the Channel for Francois Doumen.
Ollie Magern, an early casualty when well backed on his reappearance in the United House Gold Cup at Ascot, completes the line-up.