Balko Des Flos is the star attraction in the PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park on Saturday.
Henry de Bromhead’s charge heads into the new campaign as the joint highest-rated chaser in Ireland following his dominant victory over Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
He disappointed on his final outing of last season at Aintree, but is reported to be in rude health ahead of his return to action in a race his trainer won four times with the great Sizing Europe.
Rachael Blackmore partners Balko Des Flos for the first time.
De Bromhead said: “The plan all along has been this race and it looks a nice place to start him back.
“He looks great after his summer break and he is in very good form.
“He did very well for us last season and he seems great now – I’ve been delighted with him.”
De Bromhead also saddles Ordinary World, who spent last season taking on the best in the two-mile division.
The trainer added: “Bryan (Cooper) rides Ordinary World and we’re going up in trip with him.
“We’re just going to have to wait and see how he fares over two and a half miles.”
Balko Des Flos was beaten into second by A Toi Phil in this race a year ago and the Gigginstown House Stud-owned pair renew rivalry this weekend.
Ballycasey won this race in 2016, was third last season and he is also back again for Willie Mullins.
A Toi Phil is one of two runners for Gordon Elliott along with Jury Duty, while Jessica Harrington saddles Woodland Opera, Don’t Touch It and Rock The World.
Ballyoisin bids for a fourth successive win for Enda Bolger, while Peter Fahey’s Peregrine Run completes the 10-strong field.