Champion Chase hero Politologue will face a maximum of nine rivals in Ascot's Matchbook Betting Exchange Clarence House Chase on Saturday, with King George second Waiting Patiently a surprise supplementary entry.
Trained by Paul Nicholls for John Hales, the striking grey won the Betfair Tingle Creek in December and this weekend's race was quickly identified as the next target before another crack at the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, which he won so decisively last year.
He can be backed at 6-1 with Sky Bet to repeat that triumph.
Politologue's opposition on Saturday is set to include Defi Du Seuil, whose form has fallen away since he landed the Clarence House 12 months ago.
Fourth in the Champion Chase, he was pulled up when last seen in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in November.
Ruth Jefferson and owner Richard Collins have opted to supplement Waiting Patiently for a fee of £5,000 in an intriguing addition to the race, following his super second to Frodon in last month's King George VI Chase.
The ten-year-old's finest hour came at the Berkshire course when he beat Cue Card to win the Ascot Chase in 2018 over 2m5f.
The ground at Ascot was described as soft on Monday morning by clerk of the course Chris Stickels, who said: "We had 6mm of rain on Saturday, sleety sort of snowy stuff to begin with and then rain, while yesterday was dry and breezy.
"We have got an unsettled windy forecast for the middle of the week and we're forecast between 25-28mm of rain, so if we get that I'd have thought we'd be looking at heavy in the going description."
Stickels, in charge of the turf at the royal racecourse since 2005, added: "Friday and Saturday looks a little bit drier, but a bit colder. Originally we thought snow was forecast, but now it just looks like it's going to be drier with an overnight frost on Saturday morning.
"The picture does improve at the weekend; it gets a bit colder, but there's no risk of snow, and a bit drier."
Nicholls is also due to run Duc Des Genievres in the Clarence House and will be represented at Taunton on the same afternoon by Yala Enki, recently third in the Coral Welsh Grand National and aiming to win the Weatherbys Portman Cup Chase for the second year running.
"Although it is soon enough to be turning Yala Enki out again after his brilliant show in the Coral Welsh National he is a hardy character, as tough as nails, and has only been ticking over since Chepstow with one canter a day," the 11-time champion trainer posted on his website on Monday.