William Haggas could rely on Johan to give him an outright record of five winners in the Unibet Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster on Saturday.
The Yorkshire-born Newmarket trainer shares the winning-most tally along with Jack Robinson, who won the race four times between 1896 and 1910.
Haggas has taken the traditional curtain-raiser for the Flat turf season with High Low (1992), Very Wise (2007), Penitent (2010) and Addeybb (2018).
Johan will have to defy top-weight of 9st 10lb after 64 horses remained in the one-mile feature.
The four-year-old has not raced since being beaten in a Listed race at Kempton in November, won by Kinross, after which he was gelded.
Haggas said: “It’s unfortunate he’s got top weight, but that’s because he ran well on the all-weather at Chelmsford, although he didn’t run so well in the Listed race.
“He’s got plenty of weight, so we’ll see. He’s ready to go.”
A maximum field of 22 is allowed for the Lincoln, with the next 22 in the handicap going forward to the consolation race, the Spring Mile, on the same card.
Eastern World is ante-post favourite on the back of a comfortable success at Meydan in February. The four-year-old bids to give trainer Charlie Appleby a third win in the race after Secret Brief (2016) and Auxerre (2019). James Doyle, who has ridden the last two Lincoln winners, is booked to ride.
Other horses prominent in the market to stand their ground include Haqeeqy, who is due to run under the new joint banner of John and Thady Gosden, the Owen Burrows-trained Danyah and Richard Hughes’ Brentford Hope.
Charlie Fellowes is expecting a big run from King Ottokar.
“This has been the plan since the Balmoral (at Ascot) at the end of last year,” the Newmarket trainer told Sky Sports Racing.
“He galloped on Sunday. Ben Curtis came and sat on him, who I hope is going to ride him at the weekend.
“It was a lovely piece of work and he feels like he is in really good form, to the extent where I’m going to take the visor off and just run him in a set of cheekpieces. I don’t think he needs the visor anymore. He’s back exactly where I want him.
“We’re looking forward to it, but I’ve said all along this is a Group horse. I still believe that and you need a Group horse when you’re trying to find the winner of a big handicap.
“I hope this horse’s day will come. He deserves it and would be great to see him win on Saturday.”