Politologue is a hot favourite for the Clarence House Chase (Alan Crowhurst/PA)Politologue is set to face seven rivals in the Matchbook Betting Exchange Clarence House Chase at Ascot.

Last season’s Queen Mother Champion Chase hero made a flying start to the current campaign when bagging a second victory in the Tingle Creek at Sandown – and he is a hot favourite to provide trainer Paul Nicholls with a sixth success in Saturday’s Grade One feature.

The Ditcheat handler also saddles Duc Des Genievres. The grey won the 2019 Arkle at Cheltenham when trained by Willie Mullins and has been placed twice since joining Nicholls, at Cheltenham and Kempton respectively.

Last year’s winner Defi Du Seuil returns to defend his crown – with something to prove.

Defi Du Seuil (right) on his way to winning last year's Clarence House Chase
Defi Du Seuil (right) on his way to winning last year’s Clarence House Chase (Bradley Collyer/PA)

The Philip Hobbs-trained eight-year-old was a red-hot favourite to win the Champion Chase after denying the now-retired Un De Sceaux a fourth Clarence House Chase success 12 months ago.

However, Defi Du Seuil disappointed at the Cheltenham Festival and again failed to fire on his return at Prestbury Park in November.

Ruth Jefferson decided to supplement her stable star Waiting Patiently earlier this week, at a cost of £5,000.

The former Ascot Chase winner ran an excellent race to finish second to Frodon in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, and drops almost a mile in distance four weeks later.

Kim Bailey steps First Flow up in class following five consecutive wins at a lower level.

Bun Doran (Tom George), Fanion D’Estruval (Venetia Williams) and Le Patriote (Dr Richard Newland) complete the octet.

Williams told Sky Sports Racing: “I don’t see why the ground should adversely affect him any more than the others. It’s no bad thing, because a race like that is all about sheer speed and hopefully that might take a bit of the edge off it.

“He’s still a young horse, and I think that’s where a lot of the hope and promise comes from.

“It’s easy to forget he started off in a handicap, although winning it very easily at Newbury on his first run for us last season, and since then we’ve pretty much thrown him in at the deep end – this is going to deeper than anything he’s done before.”

Fanion D’Estruval was last seen falling three fences from home in the re-scheduled Peterborough Chase at Cheltenham.

“There were several travelling well. It was far enough out not to be making judgments at that stage,” Williams added.

“The last quarter of a mile was still to be run. We’ve yet to see how he deals with that in this company.

“He’s only just turned six, so I think we’re very much flexible on trip. I suspect in due course he’ll be stepping up in trip.”