Weird Al is on course to make his seasonal reappearance in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.
The lightly-raced nine-year-old finished 10 lengths behind Kauto Star last season after an easy win in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. Donald McCain's charge failed to complete in his final two starts last term, in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and in the John Smith's Grand National, but is reportedly in rude health for his comeback.
McCain said: "He is in grand form and I am very happy with him. He didn't run in the Charlie Hall Chase this year because I just wanted to give him a bit more time.
"He ran well in the Betfair Chase last season and then he disappointed in the Gold Cup, but that's just the one run. He was still in with a chance when he came down in the Grand National.
"You would not be confident on Saturday when you are taking on horses of that quality but we would be hopeful he runs a big race. He likes nice ground but he will cope if the ground is soft as it was slow enough last year."
Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Long Run and Imperial Commander also appear amongst the nine entries. Nicky Henderson's Long Run, who took the Cheltenham highlight in 2011, chased home the rejuvenated Kauto Star in this valuable Grade One event 12 months ago.
It has been a long road back for Imperial Commander, the 2010 Betfair winner who was pulled up on his most recent start in Long Run's Gold Cup.
Imperial Commander's jockey Paddy Brennan is excited about the assignment, tweeting: "Had my final sit on Imperial Commander this am before the Betfair Chase on Sat. I jumped 8 fences on him & he felt great."
Paul Nicholls, who has won four of the seven runnings of the Lancashire highlight, could rely upon recent Charlie Hall winner Silviniaco Conti and Tidal Bay, who bolted up in the John Smith's Hurdle on the same day at Wetherby.
The Neil Mulholland-trained Midnight Chase and Wayward Prince, now with Hilary Parrott, are still engaged. This year's Gold Cup runner-up The Giant Bolster could make his seasonal reappearance for David Bridgwater, while Cannington Brook completes the line-up.
1 July 2015Mecca's takes Thirsk honours
Dods waits on Angel decision
Soumillon takes Certain ride
Muir keeps faith with Baz
Lynam ponders dual July raid
Mile on Spear radar
September aim for Tryster
Cup aim for Arab
Geraghty targets weekend return
Time out for Hannon aces
Close encounter excites Doyle
Pendleton swaps saddles at Newbury
Island to drop in grade
Latharnach given Goodwood aim
More Stewart woe for Lynam
Time makes all the right moves
Canadian dream for Odeliz
Ground to dictate plans for Ribbons
Walsh remembers 'heavyweight' Kauto
Queen possible for Godolphin debut
Intilaaq in line for return
McCoy salutes 'amazing' Kauto
Nicholls leads Kauto tributes
Star put down after paddock fall
30 June 2015Towcester chief facing BHA charges
Down Royal proud to have seen Kauto
Nicholls leads Kauto tributes
Sad end for super Star
Doyle keen on Beau chance
Pontefract firsts for Hannon
Horn long odds-on for Eclipse
Frustration continues for Tudhope
Globetrotting Glance retired
Package heads for retirement
Falmouth caution for Integral
Stars on Leger course
Chase set for drop in class
Vintage option for Sails
29 June 2015France for Force
Karpino King George plans on hold
Firecrown out for compensation
Prat possible for Estidhkaar
Lowther in Lady's sights
Bay bypasses Eclipse date
Beach life suits red-hot Heffernan
Forever foxes sprint rivals
Diamond sparkles in Pretty Polly
Treve too good at Saint-Cloud
Aquam impresses on debut
Pilot leaves rivals toiling
Kodi has Jean Prat option
Aeolus given French targets
Ervedya to face her elders
28 June 2015Aquam impresses on debut
Aktabantay in Jean Prat mix
Believe seeking redemption
'Positive' signs for Creighton
Law ready to Rock at the Curragh
Jack's the lad for Curragh glory
Hughes reveals training ambition
O'Neill continues in fine form
Cliffs on track in Railway
Nicholls' Debt takes Celebration
Fab four for Doyle
Byron back with a bang
Quest for Plate ends in victory
Aeolus in Chipchase surprise