Colin Tizzard looks set to launch a three-pronged assault on the 32Red King George VI Chase with defending champion Thistlecrack increasingly likely to be joined by stablemates Cue Card and Fox Norton.
Thistlecrack was a brilliant winner of the Kempton showpiece last year, but was ultimately disappointing on his return from injury in last month's Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.
Connections feel they misjudged how fit the nine-year-old was on his first start since being beaten by the ill-fated Many Clouds at Cheltenham in January and the trainer's son and assistant, Joe, expects him to show his true colours on Boxing Day.
Speaking at a 3 2Red Winter Festival preview, Tizzard said: "Thistlecrack is good. He has come out of his run at Newbury really well and has never missed a day, which was always going to be the most important thing. He did his usual routine that Saturday and was back galloping on the Monday morning.
"We think it was just down to lack of fitness, it's as simple as that. Although I put my neck on the line and said he was fit, I don't think he was. He looked the part and jumped like he can. Just from the back of three out he got tired.
"He certainly looks a lot tighter now. I wouldn't say he's improved as he has never been a massively flamboyant horse at home, but I am sure he is fitter and he has always been a big, gross horse that has taken a bit of work. We are confident you will see a fitter horse at Kempton."
Cue Card was no match for Bristol De Mai when bidding for a fourth victory in last month's Betfair Chase at Haydock.
The 11-year-old holds an entry in the rescheduled Peterborough Chase at Taunton on Thursday, but is more likely to wait for the King George, which he won in 2015.
Tizzard added: " We have made an entry for the Peterborough, but I'm not sure that two-five around Taunton would be ideal nowadays. I'm not sure he would be quick enough.
"If you take the winner out he ran well enough at Haydock the other day. Bristol De Mai was unbeatable in those conditions that day.
"He seems in good form. I think Mrs (Jean) Bishop (owner) is keen to have another crack at the King George and I think that is most likely where he'll turn up."
Fox Norton would be making a relatively swift return to action if he does turn up at Kempton, having suffered an odds-on defeat in the Tingle Creek at Sandown last weekend.
He would be stepping up from two miles to three, but has already proved himself over the intermediate distance of two-and-a-half and the withdrawal of Gold Cup hero Sizing John from the King George has increased the possibility of Fox Norton taking his chance.
"Originally it was the wish of Alan's (Potts) to keep those two horses apart. That was when they were going to have a crack at the £1million bonus (with Sizing John), but that has now all changed as it is only up for grabs for one horse (Bristol De Mai)," Tizzard added.
"Fox Norton will be left in the King George at the five-day stage. He's come out of the Tingle Creek very well.
"His best form last year was over two-and-a-half. The King George would have been a target had Sizing John not been owned by the same person. It is a big possibility you will will see him there."