Paisley Park and Thistlecrack are among eight entries for the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on Friday.
Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park was the undoubted star of the staying hurdling division last season, winning each of his four starts, including victory in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
The seven-year-old is set to make his first competitive appearance since that triumph in Friday’s three-mile Grade Two.
Paisley Park’s potential rivals include the Colin Tizzard-trained Thistlecrack – winner of this race back in 2015.
The 11-year-old is set to return to the smaller obstacles for the first time since finishing fifth in this race two years ago, with Tizzard already having one eye on the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day – a race he won in 2016 and finished second in last season.
Harry Fry has entered If The Cap Fits and Unowhatimeanharry. The latter claimed this prize in 2016 and 2018 and looks set to bid for the hat-trick.
The veteran was last seen chasing home Tom George’s The Worlds End in a Grade Two at Wetherby – and the pair could renew rivalry in Berkshire.
Nicky Henderson’s William Henry, the Nick Williams-trained Agrapart and the 2017 race winner Beer Goggles – now trained by Nicky Martin – are the other hopefuls.
Grade Two honours are also up for grabs in the preceding Ladbrokes Novices’ Chase – better known as the Berkshire Novices’ Chase.
Previous winners of this event include a pair of subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winners in Bobs Worth (2011) and Coneygree (2014) – and the potential star attraction in this year’s renewal is Henderson’s Champ.
The high-class hurdler made a smart start to his career over fences at this venue three weeks ago and will be well fancied to follow up against the likes of Black Op, Vision Des Flos and Reserve Tank.