Big Buck’s bids to take his unbeaten run over the smaller obstacles to 12 when he attempts to win the Liverpool Hurdle for the third year running at Aintree on Thursday.
The undisputed staying champion, with three World Hurdle crowns under his belt at the Cheltenham Festival, is opposed by 10 rivals in the Grade One contest over an extended three miles (4800m) on Merseyside.
The eight-year-old’s trainer Paul Nicholls and owner Andy Stewart are also represented by Gwanako, who won the Topham Chase over the National fences in 2008.
Grands Crus, who ran Big Buck’s to a length and three-quarters at Cheltenham last month, has been given the opportunity by trainer David Pipe to gain his revenge.
In what is an extremely strong renewal of this race, Nigel Twiston-Davies steps Khyber Kim up in trip after he was well beaten in the Champion Hurdle.
The nine-year-old won the Aintree Hurdle over two and a half miles (4000m) last April and again holds an entry in that contest on Saturday.
Also tackling a longer distance is the Gordon Elliott-trained Carlito Brigante, winner of the Coral Cup at Cheltenham.
George Charlton saddles his stable star Knockara Beau, who was fourth under top weight in the Pertemps at the Festival, while Alan King’s Karabak and Sentry Duty from Nicky Henderson’s yard are other talented animals.
Completing the line-up are Markington, Possol and Won In The Dark.