Altior will face five rivals when he defends his crown in the bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown on Saturday.
Nicky Henderson’s superstar rounded off an unbeaten novice campaign with a runaway success in this Grade One contest a year ago and will be red-hot favourite to repeat the dose.
The eight-year-old missed the first half of the campaign following a well-publicised breathing issue, but has proved since the turn of the year he has lost none of his brilliant ability, winning twice – including an ultimately dominant display in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
Irish hopes rest on the Henry de Bromhead-trained Special Tiara.
The 11-year-old claimed this prize in 2015, but was no match for Altior 12 months ago and was pulled up when bidding for successive Champion Chase victories last month.
Paul Nicholls saddles recent Aintree scorer Diego Du Charmil and San Benedeto.
Tom George’s God’s Own and Ar Mad from Gary Moore’s yard complete the line-up.
A full field of 20 has been declared for the bet365 Gold Cup, headed by Blaklion.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained nine-year-old was brought down at the first fence in the Grand National a fortnight ago and makes a swift return under top weight.
Twiston-Davies has a strong hand with course-and-distance winner Benbens and Bigbadjohn also in contention.
Other leading hopes include Warren Greatrex’s Kim Muir hero Missed Approach, the Philip Hobbs-trained Rock The Kasbah and The Young Master, winner of this race two years ago for Neil Mulholland.