1. BRISTOL DE MAI (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Daryl Jacob)
Top-class chaser who proved better than ever in 2017/18, and has a formidable record at this track, winning all three starts over fences in impressive fashion, including this race 12 months ago by 57 lengths from Cue Card. Had won Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby (by half a length from Blaklion) earlier that month, and went on to finish well-beaten sixth to Might Bite in King George VI Chase after, not suited by quicker ground. Back on track when seven lengths second, again to Might Bite, in Bowl Chase at Aintree final start, just outclassed by better rival. Likely has been primed for this, but would prefer the ground more testing and hasn't always convinced with his jumping
2. CLAN DES OBEAUX (Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden)
High-class chaser who won graduation event over 22f here (by seven lengths from Vintage Clouds) in 2017/18. Produced best effort over fences when 10 and a quarter lengths third to Might Bite in Bowl Chase at Aintree final start, proving stamina for this trip. Still only a six-year-old (youngest in this line-up) and remains with untapped potential, so wouldn't be a big surprise to see him get closer to Might Bite now. Tough race in which to make reappearance, though.
3. MIGHT BITE (Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville)
Successful four times in 2016/17, and even better following season, completing straightforward task in listed event at Sandown before winning King George VI Chase at Kempton (by length from Double Shuffle). Just came up short to stronger stayer Native River in Gold Cup at Cheltenham but regained winning thread in eight-runner Bowl Chase at Aintree (by seven lengths from Bristol de Mai) final start. Has been well backed in lead up to this race, and this more speed-orientated track will likely suit him more than Native River. Superb jumper who has strong claims of reversing that form with likely ground conditions in his favour.
4. NATIVE RIVER (Colin Tizzard/Richard Johnson)
Top-class chaser who won three times in 2016/17, notably Welsh Grand National at Chepstow. Also won both starts in lighter 2017/18 campaign, namely Denman Chase at Newbury (by 12 lengths from Cloudy Dream) and Gold Cup at Cheltenham (by four and a half lengths from Might Bite, finding plenty). Well suited by emphasis on stamina that day under a positive ride, typically jumping boldy and proving resolute in the finish. Has good record at flatter tracks too, though, and will likely be ridden positively once more to try and make this a true test.
5. THISTLECRACK (Colin Tizzard/Tom Scudamore)
Won King George VI Chase at Kempton (as a novice, by three and a quarter lengths from Cue Card) in 2016/17, and beaten just a head by Many Clouds in Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham only subsequent start that season (suffered tendon injury). Folded tamely in Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on reappearance following campaign, but much closer to best when five and three quarter lengths fourth to Might Bite in latest renewal of King George (chased winner in straight until mistake two out) final start. Trainer reports him to be in tip-top form, but wouldn't want the ground too quick, and doesn't look the safest betting proposition at this stage.