1. Bellshill (Sandy Thomson/ Ryan Mania)
Capable of high-class form when trained by Willie Mullins, as he showed when winning the Irish Gold Cup in 2018/19. Failed to reproduce that form in three starts last season, displaying his best effort when last seen finishing 15 lengths second to Acapella Bourgeois in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse in February. Faces a stiff task on his first start for a new yard.
2. Bristol de Mai (Nigel Twiston-Davies/ Daryl Jacob)
Top-class chaser who won back-to-back renewals of this race in 2017 and 2018. Ran at least as well in defeat when bidding for the hat-trick on last season’s reappearance, dictating a steady gallop and rallying well once headed at the last to be beaten just a length and a half by Lostintranslation. Produced another top-class effort when trying to concede 2 lb to Santini in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January, travelling best but lacking the stamina of the winner in testing conditions (beaten three and a half lengths). Can be forgiven a below-par effort in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on his final start and should mount a bold bid to regain his crown.
3. Clan des Obeaux (Paul Nicholls/ Sam Twiston-Davies)
Has proved himself a top-class chaser since finishing fourth in this race in 2018, notably recording back-to-back wins in the King George VI Chase at Kempton. Most impressive when winning the latest renewal of that race, leading on the bridle before two out and quickly forging clear to land the spoils by 21 lengths from Cyrname. Below form when eighth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on his only subsequent start, disappointing in that race for the second year in succession, but he will be suited by the return to a flat track here. Goes well fresh and has been the subject of bullish reports from his trainer, so plenty of reasons to be positive about him on his reappearance.
4. Keeper Hill (Warren Greatrex/ Adrian Heskin)
Developed into a smart chaser last season, winning a graduation chase on his reappearance at this meeting and later running to a similar level when a length and a half second to Frodon in the Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton. Ran respectably after nine months off when 17 lengths fourth to Cyrname in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last time, but even his best form leaves him with plenty to find in this company.
5. Lostintranslation (Colin Tizzard/ Robbie Power)
Featured prominently in the novice chasing ranks in 2018/19 and improved further to take the step into open Grade 1 company in his stride last season. Made a winning return in an intermediate chase at Carlisle and then produced a faultless performance to win this race, coming from last to first to beat Bristol de Mai by a length and a half. Disappointed when pulled up on his next start in the King George VI Chase at Kempton, but that was the only blip as he again showed top-class form after wind surgery and three months off to finish a length and a half third to Al Boum Photo in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on his final start. Looks the one to beat on his reappearance.