Gordon Elliott’s charge has packed a lot into his eight years to date, as he has also won at the Cheltenham Festival three times – in three different races.
That shows his versatility, but he had looked in the doldrums before springing back to life in March, winning over the cross-country course before going on to write his name into the Aintree history books.
“He is only eight, which is hard to believe,” said Elliott. “He has been a great servant to the yard and has really taken to the cross-country jumps well. It is something to look forward to again with him.
“This time last year he wasn’t easy to train. We had a few problems with him and I was scratching my head what route to go with him.
“We are looking forward to starting him off on Friday.
“I know it is a big ask off top weight. March (back at the Festival) is the race we want to win.”
Elliott also runs the 13-year-old Bless The Wings, who also ran a fine race at Aintree to finish third.
Josies Orders, a three-time winner over the course and distance, represents Enda Bolger, with Peter Fahey’s Bay Of Freedom and the Gearoid O’Loughlin-trained Jarob also making the journey over the Irish sea.
Midnight Shot and Fact Of The Matter complete the seven-runner field.
The Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase has an illustrious roll of honour, which includes Denman, Grands Crus and last year the ill-fated Finian’s Oscar.
Seven promising types line up on this occasion, with Nicky Henderson running Jenkins, who is already a winner over fences, and Mr Whipped, who is making his chasing debut.
Colin Tizzard’s White Moon returns after a wind operation, while Jerrysback is having his first outing for over 600 days for Philip Hobbs.
Count Meribel, Graasten and Le Breuil all have a win over fences to their name, with Ben Pauling hoping the latter fulfils his potential.
Pauling said: “Trying to give weight to a horse like Mr Whipped could prove tricky. But he’s always a horse I’ve thought a lot of and it’s nice to have a day he can prove how good he is.”
Pauling then gives a hurdling debut to Nestor Park in the Grade Two Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.