A Plus Tard is set to face four rivals as he attempts to win back-to-back renewals of the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.
Traditionally a small field, the Grade 1 prize was nominated a long way out by trainer Henry de Bromhead as the preferred starting point for last season’s stunningly impressive Gold Cup winner.
With more rain forecast on Merseyside conditions are likely to be testing, but the eight-year-old does have winning form with plenty of cut in the ground and De Bromhead stated earlier in the week that he feels A Plus Tard is versatile when it comes to underfoot conditions.
One rival who will certainly be at home if the mud is flying is Bristol De Mai.
The popular grey is now 11, but is a three-time winner of the race. However, he was pulled up in the contest 12 months ago.
Dan Skelton’s Protektorat is the chief market rival to A Plus Tard.
A fine third in the Gold Cup, he found those exertions had left their mark when turned out quickly in the Bowl at Aintree afterwards.
Eldorado Allen and Frodon, who complete the field, both have the advantage of having had a run this season.
Joe Tizzard’s Eldorado Allen finished a respectable second to King George favourite Bravemansgame in the Charlie Hall when trying to concede 3lb, while Frodon dipped his toe back in the handicap waters in the Badger Beer Chase at Wincanton and returned to winning ways.
His trainer Paul Nicholls has warned the popular gelding is not certain to travel to Haydock, however, should the ground turn heavy.