Regal Encore is on course to defend its title in the Bateaux London Gold Cup Handicap Chase, as one of Ascot’s 24 entries this weekend.

The 13-year-old triumphed 14-1 for coach Anthony Honeyball last season, and has an impressive record at Ascot — with four wins on the track and the distance to his name.

He was last seen pulling out in Punchestown in May, and Saturday’s Division III competition is set to be the veteran’s first run for what is likely to be his final season in coaching.

Regal Encore and Richie McLernon (right) lead Acting Lass and Sean Bowen on Ascot's last fence
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Regal Encore and Richie McLernon (right) lead Acting Lass and Sean Bowen on Ascot’s last fence

Honeyball also entered Sojourn, an eight-year-old in good shape during a sojourn on victories at Market Rasen and Carlisle.

Regal Encore was overtaken for second place by Vinndication in this race’s 2019 revamp, and eight-year-old Kim Bailey is racing again on his first start to the campaign.

Chan Bleu was narrowly beaten by Sporting Gun
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Chan Bleu was narrowly beaten by Sporting Gun

Dan Skelton has a triple of potential, entering first-class winner Shan Bleu along with former Ascot scorers Bennis King and Captain Chaos.

Champion coach Paul Nichols may be represented by 2019 Midlands National Award winner Real Steel and Truckers Lodge, and Charlie Longsdon is currently working with Glen Forsa and Snow Leopardess.

Real Steel is now trained by Paul Nicholls
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Real Steel is now trained by Paul Nicholls

Time To Get Up, the 2020 Midlands National Award winner, holds a post for Jonjo O’Neill – along with runner-up Lucinda Russell in the Uttoxeter Mighty Thunder.

Gary Moore can choose between Larry and Full Back as he seeks a third win in this race.

Colin Tizzard, Ascot Silver Cup winner Mr. Malarkey, is on his way back to the scene of his recent successes, and Venetia Williams’ Didero Valles could make his seasonal bow.

Fossil Raffles and Daryl Jacob at Cheltenham
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Fossil Raffles and Daryl Jacob at Cheltenham

Six-year-old Nikki Henderson introduced Fossil Raffles, who finished second in Newton Abbot’s Bravemansgame this month — while Ian Williams entered One More Fleurie, and may run Nigel Twiston-Davies Checkitout.

Denon entered Mark Campion in his second round since leaving Gordon Elliott Arena – with Nick Jefford’s The Mighty Don, Philip Hobbs’ Jerrysback, Tom Lacey’s Johnbb and Suzy Smith’s Pilbara also in the mix for an 18-field max race.

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