This year's Betfair Chase, the early highlight of the National Hunt calendar, is set to feature an old warrior and ex-champion among this year’s top class field on November the 24th at Haydock Park.
2010 winner Imperial Commander, trained at Guiting Power in Gloucestershire by Nigel Twiston-Davies is set to make his return to action in the Grade One chase.
The ten year old gelding won the Betfair Chase in 2010, the same year that he took steeplechasing's ultimate prize, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Though he has not been on a racetrack since the 2011 Gold Cup, where he was pulled up some way from home, Imperial Commander is on the way back and likely to take his chance in the Haydock feature.
He has been working back to fitness at Kevin and Essen Ross' Mount Top Stud just outside Belfast, where he has he has spent summers throughout his career, and where he has been recuperating since sustaining a season-ending tendon injury in September 2011.
Ian Robinson, spokesman for owners Our Friends In The North, said the 2010 Gold Cup winner's chances of racing again looked bright.
"He looks fantastic and scans on the leg have come back clear twice," he said. "He's had a good long break and fingers crossed everything will go to plan."
He said plans for Imperial Commander will become clearer after Richard Bevis, his regular work rider, puts him through his paces at Twiston-Davies' stable.
With his fitness proven, Imperial Commander will head straight back to the scene of his 2010 triumph.
If last year's race is anything to go by then Imperial Commander will face a stiff task as many of the top staying chasers in the country will converge on Haydock Park for the three mile contest, the first Grade One of the season and part of the two day Betfair festival.
In 2011 Kauto Star took the lead a long way out, tested his rivals' jumping prowess, and fought off challenger after challenger, before finally holding off his Gold Cup conqueror Long Run in an epic duel up the Haydock straight.
In its short history, the Betfair Chase, with prize money of at least £200,000, has established itself as one of the highlights of the jumping calendar. Attracting the leading staying chasers, it represents the first real test of the season for any horse with aspirations of joining the elite of jump racing.
The quality of the horses taking part in the Betfair Chase every year is second to none. In each of the first six runnings, either the holder of the Cheltenham Gold Cup or the horse going on to win the Gold Cup later that season, namely Kicking King, Kauto Star and Imperial Commander, has taken part.
The supporting card on Betfair Chase day is also growing in quality. The races include the Fixed Brush Hurdle, won in 2010 by Grands Crus, the current second favourite for this year's World Hurdle, and 12 months previously by former Cheltenham Festival winner Diamond Harry.
As well as Imperial Commander the race is likely to feature Long Run, trying to regain his status as top jumps horse in the country, The Giant Bolster who was second in last year's Gold Cup, and Diamond Harry who always seems to perform well at this flat track. Any number of young pretenders such as Bob’s worth, Grands Crus and Silviniaco Conti will also be looking to test their mettle against the best and lay down an early season marker.