Last year’s winner Coole Cody is among 24 horses standing their ground for Saturday’s Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham at the five-day confirmation stage.
Evan Williams’ charge took the valuable two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase by three and a quarter lengths from Spiritofthegames 12 months.
The 10-year-old shaped encouragingly on his pipe-opener over hurdles at the Prestbury Park track last month when runner-up to Guard Your Dreams in a handicap over a similar distance.
Williams said: “We’re giving it another go. He had a nice run last time and blew the old cobwebs away. Obviously we’re a bit higher than last year but we’ll give it a crack.
“He goes well round the track. He enjoys the old course which is a bonus.”
Spiritofthegames is one of two possibles from the Dan Skelton stable along with Protektorat. The latter is one of the 5-1 ante-post joint-favourites along with Lalor, who would be having his first run for Paul Nicholls.
The Ditcheat handler also has Simply The Betts, who would be another making his debut for the yard.
Other fancied runners include the Sam Thomas-trained Al Dancer and Caribean Boy from Nicky Henderson’s stable. The weights are headed by Assemble, trained by Joseph O’Brien.