Bravemansgame and last year’s winner Protektorat clash in a four-runner affair in today’s Gr1 Betfair Chase at Haydock (17h00).
Run over 3 miles and 2 furlongs, the runners can expect soft ground conditions.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls confirmed his Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up to be on course for this weekend’s staying prize at the start of the week, with Daryl Jacob deputising for the ride as Harry Cobden has four rides for the stable at Ascot.
Protektorat’s trainer Dan Skelton earmarked this feature for his stable star all Autumn. However, with a seasonal run under his belt, Bravemansgame can atone for his narrow defeat in the Charlie Hall, and he will be hard to catch with match-fitness now on his side.
Across the Irish Sea, Paul Townend is looking forward to success aboard State Man in Saturday’s Gr1 Morgiana Hurdle (16h35). He has only been beaten once in eight starts over hurdles to Constitution Hill in the Champion Hurdle last season and looks hard to oppose against three rivals at Punchestown.
Earlier on the card, where track conditions are posted as soft, dual Stayers’ Hurdle winner Flooring Porter could take some stopping in the Gr2 Florida Pearl Novice Chase (15h23). A strong front-runner, he was an impressive winner at Cheltenham last month on his chasing debut when beating Broadway Boy by two and a half lengths. The runner-up subsequently boosted that form with an emphatic success last weekend.
Punchestown’s Sunday card sees the return of Gold Cup hero Galopin Des Champs. The Willie Mullins star takes on his surprise Punchestown Gold Cup conqueror Fastorslow in the John Durkan Memorial Chase (16h30).
Willie Mullins and Fastorslow’s trainer Martin Brassil are the only trainers represented in the Punchestown Group 1, with Mullins responsible for the other four runners.
Mullins will celebrate a tenth John Durkan if successful, also runs Appreciate It, Asterion Forlonge, Blue Lord and Stattler, but all eyes will be on Paul Townend’s mount Galopin Des Champ.