Trainer Mouse Morris has warned stable star First Lieutenant will need the run in the Star Best For Racing Coverage Chase at Punchestown on Thursday.
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The eight-year-old danced every dance last season, finishing placed in four Grade Ones and in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.
He also claimed a deserved success at the top level in the Betfair Bowl at Aintree in April.
Morris said: "He's well in himself but he's a bit behind where I'd want him to be. The gallops at home have been too quick and I've not got as much work into him as I would have liked, but that will be the same for everybody, I imagine.
"In any case, he'll only run if the ground is safe. It's been raining there so I hope it gets into the ground quick enough.
"This is a nice place to start him back. He's favoured at the weights so I hope we can run him, but I don't want to ruin him on his first run back.
"After this we'll look at the Charlie Hall (Wetherby) or the James Nicholson (JNwine.com) Chase at Down Royal, with the Nicholson more likely, but it depends on the ground which is why we'll give ourselves the Wetherby option.
"It's easy to find races for him after that - they pick themselves for the good horses."
First Lieutenant is owned by Gigginstown House Stud, who are also responsible for Roi Du Mee, who is bidding for a hat-trick in this race, Tofino Bay and Toner D'Oudairies.
Noble Prince was way below his best last season and trainer Paul Nolan is just hoping to see some of his "old sparkle".
"It's a nice place to start him back after a disappointing campaign," said Nolan. "He's best watched tomorrow, it's his first run back and on official ratings he's not got much of a chance, you wouldn't think.
"I'd love to see a bit of the old sparkle. He had awful problems with his feet last year and though they are sorted now, you never know until you run them.
"He's been in training a long time - he was running on the Flat - so you just hope he's got that enthusiasm. We'll give him another chance and see if the fire still burns. We've declared him taking a chance on the forecast, hoping the rain arrives."
Bryan Cooper is looking forward to teaming up with Tofino Bay for his boss Dessie Hughes.
"Any more rain won't do him any harm for him. It's his first start (of the year). He's in good order," the jockey told At The Races. "At home he seems to be fit and ready. He's tough and always seems to run a good race. Three miles is his trip and he'd even get three and a half in the future."