The Henry de Bromhead-trained star went from Merseyside to Leopardstown last year and then to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup, where he triumphed in brilliant style in the hands of Rachael Blackmore.

Owned by Cheveley Park Stud, A Plus Tard finished 22 lengths ahead of Venetia Williams’ Royale Pagaille in the Haydock feature 12 months ago and the pair could meet again. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Bristol De Mai was pulled up on that occasion, but is a three-time winner of the race and is entered once again.

Elodrado Allen has proven himself at three miles having found only Bravemansgame too good in the Charlie Hall Chase at the weekend and is in line to run for Joe Tizzard, with Frodon representing Paul Nicholls.

But the biggest threat to A Plus Tard could come from the Dan Skelton-trained Protektorat, who was third in the blue riband at Cheltenham.

The sponsors make A Plus Tard the 1-2 favourite, with Protektorat at 11-4.

“It’s a race with a rich tradition of champions retaining their crown. Bristol De Mai, Cue Card and the mighty Kauto Star have all done it,” said Betfair’s Barry Orr.

“A Plus Tard is odds-on to add his name to that illustrious list, but it won’t be a cakewalk for the Gold Cup winner with Protektorat sure to keep him honest. All the ingredients are there to make this 18th edition of the race a quality renewal.”