Dual winner Clan Des Obeaux is one of 24 entries for the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton.
Trainer Paul Nicholls has claimed a record 11 victories in the festive highlight, five of which were delivered by the brilliant Kauto Star between 2006 and 2011.
He has since saddled both Silviniaco Conti (2013 and 2014) and Clan Des Obeaux (2018 and 2019) for victory in back-to-back renewals, and looks set to play a strong hand once again.
Nicholls’ Cyrname was a hot favourite for last year’s renewal – and although he was ultimately well-beaten by his stable companion, he bounced back to his best with an impressive display in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last weekend.
The Ditcheat trainer has already confirmed the pair are likely to renew rivalry on Boxing Day – and he has also entered Frodon and Real Steel, who was formerly trained by Willie Mullins in Ireland.
Mullins has a trio of contenders as he bids to land the King George for the first time since the popular Florida Pearl struck gold in 2001 – with triple Grade One winner Kemboy joined by a pair of high-class novices from last term in Allaho and Melon.
Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies, the Henry de Bromhead-trained Monalee and The Storyteller from Gordon Elliott’s yard complete the potential raiding party. The last Irish-trained winner was Tom Taaffe’s Kicking King in 2005.
Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation disappointed in last year’s King George, after winning the Betfair Chase at Haydock, but bounced back to finish third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
Other leading hopes for the home team include Nicky Henderson’s RSA Chase winner Champ, the Philip Hobbs-trained two-mile star Defi Du Seuil and Vinndication from Kim Bailey’s yard.