Cheltenham hopes to stage an exciting seven-race card this Tuesday, 1 January, headlined by the £50,000 Grade Three BetVictor.com Handicap Chase (2.30pm) over two miles and five furlongs.
The valuable contest has attracted 24 entries headed by the Philip Hobbs-trained pair Wishfull Thinking (11st 12lb) and Menorah (11st 10lb), who bounced back to winning ways with a comfortable three and a half length victory in the Group Two Peterborough Chase at Kempton on 27 December.
The entries also include impressive 11-length Paul Stewart IronSpine Charity Challenge Gold Cup winner Unioniste (10st 12lb), who is one of four possible contenders for Paul Nicholls. The champion trainer could also saddle five-time course scorer Poquelin (11st 10lb), former high-class novice chaser Ghizao (11st 5lb) and Current Event (10st).
Richard Lee is set to represented by Hector's Choice (10st 12lb), who went down by a length and a half to Calgary Bay in last year's renewal before returning to the home of Jump racing in April to win the Grade Two Ceres Estates Silver Trophy by four and a half lengths.
The eight-year-old was pulled up on his seasonal reappearance in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree in October but showed promise when fourth behind Alan King's Bless The Wings (11st) in a competitive handicap chase at Newbury on 30 November.
Lee revealed: "The plan is to run Hector's Choice in the BetVictor.com Handicap Chase and Jamie Moore has been booked to ride.
"He has been in grand form since Newbury and he was second in the BetVictor.com Handicap Chase last year but it looks like being a very good race.
"He won very nicely Cheltenham at the end of last season but whether this softer ground will suit him as much, I don't know, but it's the same for all of them.
"He has found life a bit tougher this season because he has gone up in the handicap so much but he isn't going to drop in the handicap by standing in his stable.
"We have been debating whether or not we should go up to three miles with him but we ran him in the Racing Plus Chase last year at Kempton and he didn't appear to quite get it, so we are running over two miles and five furlongs on softer ground."
Other notable entries for the BetVictor.com Handicap Chase include Paddy Power Gold Cup third Nadiya De La Vega (10st 9lb), Becher Handicap Chase third Big Fella Thanks (10st 9lb) and Tartak (10st 6lb).
The one Irish-trained entry is the unexposed seven-year-old Hidden Cyclone (11st 4lb), who lines up in this afternoon's Grade One Lexus Chase at Leopardstown.
Tuesday's card is also likely to feature a mouth-watering clash between dual Grade One winner Oscar Whisky and 2011 Stan James Champion Hurdle runner-up Peddlers Cross in the £25,000 Centaur Hurdle (3.05pm, 12 entries) over an extended two and a half miles.
Some of the country's leading novices' chasers will be hoping to enhance their reputations in the £32,000 Grade Two Cheltenham Pony Club Raceday Novices' Chase (1.20pm – 13 entries)). The two mile and five furlong contest has been won by subsequent Grade One scorers My Way De Solzen and The Listener, and Nicky Henderson's Captain Conan is set to line up.
Racing is scheduled to start at 12.15pm with the £10,000 Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle (26 entries) and the entries for the extended two and a half mile contest are headed by unbeaten hurdlers Clondaw Kaempfer, Easter Day and Grands Crus' full-brother Gevrey Chambertin.
The action also includes the £20,000 Cheltenham Mobile Apps Handicap Chase (12.45pm, 21 entries), the £20,000 Mirrors Punters Club Handicap Hurdle (1.55pm, 21 entries) and concludes with the £16,000 Listed EBF "High Sheriff Of Gloucestershire's" Junior Bumper (3.40pm, 18 entries).
Meeting: New Year's Day
Dates: Tuesday, 1 January, 2013
Gates Open: 10.30am
First Race: 12.15pm
Admission prices from £12. Go to www.cheltenham.co.uk for further information
Precautionary inspection – 10am, Sunday, 30 December