Last year’s winner Cyrname heads eight entries for the Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
The Paul Nicholls-trained nine-year-old is, however, on something of a retrieval mission on Saturday.
Having looked right back to his best in Yorkshire last October, Cyrname failed to complete in two subsequent outings – at Kempton in the King George and at Ascot.
Dan Skelton has started the season in good form with notable wins for Third Time Lucki and Allmankind over the weekend, and he has been aiming second-season chaser Shan Blue at this race for some time.
A talented novice, he won the Kauto Star at Kempton on Boxing Day and was second in two other Grade Ones.
Skelton said: “Shan Blue is in great order, and the Charlie Hall Chase has been on his radar since the beginning of the season.
“He also has an entry in the handicap at Ascot, but the full intention is to run at Wetherby provided the ground is OK, because he has a good record around there.
“Cyrname has obviously achieved far more than we have in the past – but that was the past, and this is the present. Young horses have to take on the older horses at some point.
“It won’t be easy, of course it won’t. But that is where we are with this horse, and I am delighted he is able to take part in races like this.”
Tom George’s Clondaw Castle brings solid handicap form to the table, and was also second at the top level to Clan Des Obeaux at Aintree in April – albeit beaten 26 lengths.
Scottish National winner Mighty Thunder, Nicky Henderson’s Fusil Raffles, Phil Kirby’s Top Ville Ben, the Christian Williams-trained Kitty’s Light and Henry Daly’s mare Chilli Filli complete the list.
The bet365 Hurdle, better known as the West Yorkshire Hurdle, has attracted 12 entries – including Paisley Park.
Last season was up and down for Emma Lavelle’s stable star, winning the Long Walk but ending the season pulled up behind Thyme Hill at Aintree.
“Paisley Park is good, and the idea is to start off at Wetherby provided the ground is on the slow side,” said Lavelle.
“He has been in brilliant form since he has come back in. He seems really well in himself and has done everything we have asked of him.
“He came in a little earlier this season with a view to getting him out earlier, and he is definitely ready to run this weekend as long as the ground is suitable.
“There is rain forecast later in the week, so fingers crossed it arrives.”
Another previous Stayers’ Hurdle winner, Lisnagar Oscar, has been given the option by Rebecca Curtis.
Nicholls has entered Master Tommytucker, better known as a chaser but unbeaten in two outings over hurdles, while Skelton could run Proschema and Molly Ollys Wishes – who also has an entry in the bet365 Mares’ Hurdle.
There is also an Irish entry in the shape of the Charles Brynes-trained Run For Oscar.
While rain is forecast towards the end of the week at Wetherby, it would be most welcome.
Clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson said: “We’re due heavy rain Thursday and into Friday morning, but once that has passed through it looks dry.
“They are saying there could be up to 15-20 millimetres in that band, which would be most welcome.
“We’re finishing off a second cycle of irrigation today, so it will have had nigh on an inch of water since Thursday-Friday.
“Tomorrow we’ll take a look and see what that rain looks like – if it’s disappeared or halved or whatever – and we’ll decide whether to water again.
“We’ve pretty much got the full range of good ground, good to soft down the back and and bit quicker up the home straight – but it’s been like that since the (configuration) change many years ago.”
The anticipated return of Cyrname will be an obvious highlight at the weekend.
Sanderson added: “It’s nice to see Cyrname back again for the Charlie Hall.
“The (entry) numbers are about what we’d expect, but the hurdle race numerically looks stronger than usual – which is great to see.
“With two previous Stayers’ Hurdle winners in there, hopefully at least one of them will run.”