Bristol De Mai faces seven rivals in his quest to earn a record-equalling fourth victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained grey has taken the Grade One prize three times – in 2017, 2018 and 2020 – and bids to equal the mighty Kauto Star, who was successful in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011.
There is strong opposition, including Henry de Bromhead’s A Plus Tard, who makes his first appearance since filling the runner-up spot behind stablemate Minella Indo in last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. He is Betfair's 6/4 market leader.
Chatham Street Lad, trained by Mick Winters, is the other Irish-trained contender.
Paul Nicholls, who has won the Betfair Chase on a record six occasions, saddles second-season novice Next Destination.
Waiting Patiently has not won since beating Cue Card in the 2018 Ascot Chase, but Christian Williams has been positive about his well-being ahead of his first start for the yard.
The Venetia Williams-trained Royale Pagaille won the Peter Marsh Chase by 16 lengths over the course and distance last season and returns to Merseyside this weekend.
The field is completed by Clondaw Castle (Tom George) and Imperial Aura (Kim Bailey), with Native River the only withdrawal at the 48-hour final declaration stage.
Betfair spokesperson, Barry Orr, said: "It’s shaping up to be a real cracker and punters are backing A Plus Tard to give Ireland a first victory in the race and thereby deny Bristol De Mai a record-equalling fourth win in the race.
"It’s a vintage renewal made all the more interesting by the continued support for A Plus Tard, who is now 6/4 from 13/8.
"Three time winner Bristol De Mai is steady at 10/3 while the real springer in the field has been Waiting Patiently. He is now just 11/2 having been backed at 8/1 and bigger in the antepost market."
The Betfair Chase – sponsors betting: 6/4 A Plus Tard, 10/3 Bristol De Mai, 5/1 Next Destination, 11/2 Waiting Patiently, 9/1 Royale Pagaille, 12/1 Imperial Aura, 33/1 Clondaw Castle, 33/1 Chatham Street Lad
(Each-way 1/5 odds, 3 places)
We are committed in our support of safer gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.
If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline / GamCare on 0808 8020 133.