Ballyoptic heads a field of 18, just above the well-fancied Vinndication at the top of the weights, for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.
Ballyoptic bids to give trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies a second success in Saturday’s big race, formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup, after King’s Road was triumphant 20 years ago.
The 10-year-old will have to bounce back, however, from being pulled up on his seasonal reappearance in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, won by Cyrname.
The Kim Bailey-trained Vinndication, Harriet Graham’s Aye Right and Warren Greatrex’s La Bague Au Roi – who were second, third and fifth respectively in the Charlie Hall – renew rivalry in the prestigious long-distance handicap chase.
Cyrname’s trainer Paul Nicholls is two-handed, with Secret Investor and Danny Whizzbang, while Bailey also saddles Two For Gold.
Tom George’s Black Op and David Bridgwater’s Cheltenham Festival winner The Conditional – second in the Ladbrokes Trophy last year – have been well-supported in the ante-post market.
The Hollow Ginge is a second string to the Twiston-Davies bow – with Kildisart, Regal Encore and the Colin Tizzard-trained pair of Copperhead and Mister Malarky among others in the line-up.
Sam Brown was the only withdrawal at the 48-hour final declaration stage.