Last year’s winner and runner-up Mister Malarky and Black Corton are on course to do battle again in the Close Brothers Handicap Chase at Kempton.
Colin Tizzard’s Mister Malarky landed another big pot at Ascot in December, but was a distant seventh most recently in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.
Paul Nicholls’ Black Corton, due to top the weights as he did 12 months ago, will need to bounce back on Saturday after a rare disappointing run last time out when he was pulled up at Cheltenham in December.
Aso, second at Warwick recently, Cap Du Nord, third in the Sky Bet, and Kempton specialist Double Shuffle are also among the 19 remaining possibles.
There should be Cheltenham clues elsewhere on the card, with Alan King’s Tritonic entered in both the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle and the Close Brothers Adonis Juvenile Hurdle.
A classy performer on the level, he made a winning debut over hurdles at Ascot.
Also in the Dovecote is Nicholls’ Atholl Street, Dan Skelton’s Calico and Emmett Mullins’ Irish Cesarewitch winner Cape Gentleman.
There are 16 possibles in the Adonis – with Nicky Henderson’s Heross Du Seuil, a Kempton winner over Christmas, and Jane Williams’ Honneur D’Ajonc, a late faller when leading in the same race, due to face each other once more.
Adding intrigue is the French challenger Margaret’s Legacy – while Skelton could run John Locke, useful on the Flat for Ralph Beckett.
Hitman, Ga Law, Messire Des Obeaux and Coole Cody are among seven in the Close Brothers Pendil Novices’ Chase.