Santini and Delta Work are among nine entries for the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.
The pair finished second and third respectively behind the currently sidelined Topofthegame in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at last season’s Cheltenham Festival and feature in the possibles for the Magners Gold Cup trial.
Nicky Henderson’s Santini made a successful reappearance at Sandown in early November, while the Gordon Elliott-trained Delta Work was last seen claiming his fourth Grade One success in a thrilling Savills Chase at Leopardstown during the festive period.
Both horses are a best-priced 9-1 for the Gold Cup on March 13 and could test their credentials this weekend, although Delta Work appears more likely to stay at home and wait for the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup on February 2.
Eddie O’Leary, manager for Delta Work’s owners Gigginstown House Stud, said: “I’d say Gordon is just keeping his options open. I think Delta Work is more likely to go back to Leopardstown for the Irish Gold Cup.”
Elliott has also entered Alpha Des Obeaux, while Ellmarie Holden’s stable star Ex Patriot is another potential Irish challenger.
Bristol De Mai is likely to represent Nigel Twiston-Davies, Mick Channon could saddle Mister Whitaker and Colin Tizzard is considering pitching in the novice Slate House.
The latter won the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on his latest appearance.
Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father, said: “He has been entered in the Cotswold Chase and we will look at the race and make a plan.
“Of course this would require another step up as he is only a second-season novice, but he did have that experience over fences last season, which has helped
“It could be a nice option for him, but if the race looks really hot we could go to Ascot for the Reynoldstown or come back to two and a half miles for the Scilly Isles at Sandown.”
The possible field is completed by Emma Lavelle’s Ladbrokes Trophy hero De Rasher Counter and Top Ville Ben from Phil Kirby’s yard.