Last year’s winner Total Recall features among 56 entries for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on December 1.
The nine-year-old ended a barren spell stretching back to 1980 for the Irish raiding party when scoring by a neck from Whisper – and he could try to join the elite club of Mandarin, Arkle and Denman as a dual winner of the high-profile Grade Three handicap.
Total Recall’s trainer Willie Mullins has eight possibles at this stage – including Al Boum Photo, Pairofbrowneyes and impressive Punchestown novices’ chase winner Kemboy, who races in the colours of the Supreme Horse Racing Club.
Racing manager Steve Massey said: “Kemboy is in good order, and Willie Mullins is really happy with him.
“He has summered really well, and we can’t wait to get his season started.
“He is rated 157, so we will see what the weights are and where he would stand in the Ladbrokes Trophy before making any real decisions.
“Newbury is a very good option for him. If Willie decides that it is the race for him, then he would go straight there.
“He is still only a six-year-old, so we hope there is plenty more improvement to come. He is a very exciting horse.”
The Nicky Henderson-trained Terrefort currently heads the ante-post market following two Grade One victories last year, and he is one of four entries from the Seven Barrows team.
Beware The Bear, French recruit Janika and Vyta Du Roc are also in the mix.
Thistlecrack is the likely top weight for Colin Tizzard, while a total 12-strong Irish entry also numbers Noel Meade’s Snow Falcon and three-time top-level scorer Don Poli for Gordon Elliott.
One For Arthur, winner of the 2017 Grand National, and last season’s Bet365 Gold Cup winner Step Back are other high-profile names – along with Philip Hobbs’ Rock The Kasbah, who recently finished sixth behind fellow Newbury entry The Young Master at Chepstow on his return.
Hobbs said : “Rock The Kasbah has come out of his run at Chepstow well.
“He shaped very well there, and just got tired late on. He is a classy three-mile handicap chaser.
“We would like to see some more rain, and we have entered him in the Ladbrokes Trophy.
“Newbury is certainly something we are thinking about.”
Weights for the Ladbrokes Trophy will be revealed on Wednesday, November 7.