Top-weight Frodon heads a maximum field of 20 declared for the BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.
The Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old is burdened with 11st 12lb and has to give between 9lb and 26lb to his rivals after making a successful seasonal debut in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree last month.
He actually ran in this race as a four-year-old in 2016, when unplaced behind Taquin Du Seuil, but returned to Cheltenham the following month to win the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. Nicholls also saddles Movewiththetimes and Romain de Senam.
All the leading fancies stand their ground – including ante-post favourite Rather Be, from Nicky Henderson’ stable, Mick Channon’s Mister Whitaker and the Neil Mulholland-trained duo Kalondra and Shantou Village.
David Pipe is two-handed with King’s Socks and Eamon An Cnoic as he bids to continue his family’s excellent record in the race. He won it with Great Endeavour in 2011, and his father Martin holds the record with eight victories.
Tom Scudamore, stable jockey at Nicholashayne, feels both horses go to Prestbury Park in fine shape.
“King’s Socks has had an interrupted time since he came to England,” Scudamore told At The Races.
“He ran very well at the Cheltenham Festival last year when he was fifth. He travelled very well for a long way. He seems in good order at home.
“David has got a great record in the race, as has the Pipe family.
“I’ve sat on both Eamon An Cnoic and King’s Socks – schooled them both. They seem in really good order.
“We’re very happy with where we are with them, and I certainly wouldn’t put anyone off either of them.”
Others in the mix include last year’s winner Splash Of Ginge, Javert and Baron Alco.
The sole reserve is Black Scorpion, trained in Ireland by Eric McNamara.