Dashel Drasher is set to make his seasonal debut in the Channelle Pharma 1965 Chase at Ascot on Saturday.
Trainer Jeremy Scott is keen to get his stable star under way this season and the Grade Two contest is an obvious starting point.
Dashel Drasher enjoys cut in the ground – but Scott is happy with conditions as they were described on Monday afternoon as good to soft, good in places.
He ended the last campaign with three victories, all over the course and distance. He has not raced since completing his hat-trick in the Grade One Betfair Ascot Chase over the two miles and five furlongs in February.
Dashel Drasher is unbeaten in four starts in all at the Berkshire track, having won a novice hurdle there in February 2019.
“If the ground didn’t alter too much from where it is at the moment, I think we’d run,” said Scott.
“I haven’t got too many options until Christmas time so at this stage that is very much the plan. The horse is well.
“He had a little racecourse gallop the other day at Exeter on what probably was the equivalent of the ground is at Ascot, and he seemed very happy there. We’ll see what the weather does and how we get on.”
The Somerset trainer confirmed Rex Dingle would take the ride in place of Matt Griffiths, who suffered a serious head injury in a car accident last month.
“Rex Dingle rides. He has schooled him several times and he rode him in the racecourse gallop, so he knows a bit about him,” Scott added.
Dashel Drasher would be likely to face some old rivals, including Paul Nicholls’ Master Tommytucker, who was runner-up in the Ascot Chase.
Also in the mix are Olly Murphy’s Itchy Feet and Dan Skelton’s Bennys King, who finished second in the other two races Dashel Drasher won at Ascot last term.
A quality entry includes 2019 Tingle Creek victor Defi Du Seuil from the Philip Hobbs’ yard and Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation, winner of the Betfair Chase at Haydock in 2019.
Gordon Elliott has put in his dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll, while Willie Mullins’ Franco De Port is a second Irish-trained possible.
Cepage, Espoir De Romay and Pistol Whipped make up the 11 horses confirmed at the five-day stage.