Call Me Lord heads a field of 16 runners for the Matchbook Imperial Cup at Sandown on Saturday.
Nicky Henderson’s charge has won three of his four starts at the Esher venue, his only defeat coming when beaten a neck by the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Mr Antolini when top-weight in this race 12 months ago.
He once again carries the welter burden of 11st 12lb – some 8lb higher in the weights than last season – and must concede upwards of a stone to each of his rivals.
The six-year-old also needs to bounce back from a disappointing run when favourite for the Long Walk at Ascot in December, although this fiercely competitive handicap does represent a drop in class.
Call Me Lord is joined by stable companion Dream Du Grand Val, who carries just 10st 5lb and is on a hat-trick following wins at Fontwell and Kelso since the turn of the year.
Monsieur Lecoq is a major contender for Jane and Chester Williams having also registered successive wins, most recently bolting up over this course and distance – earning himself a 10lb hike in the weights.
Other leading hopes include Fergal O’Brien’s Benny’s Bridge – although he must run from out of the handicap – the long-absent First Flow from Kim Bailey’s yard and the Paul Nicholls-trained Malaya.