Denman will take on only five rivals as he bids to win his first race since the 2009 Hennessy in the Totesport Bowl at Aintree on Thursday.

The 2008 Gold Cup winner, and runner-up in all three subsequent runnings of the Cheltenham showpiece, will have the second Merseyside outing of his career.

Now aged 11, Denman fell at the second-last in this race in 2009.

Meanwhile, Big Buck’s and Grand Crus head off in a high-profile renewal of the Liverpool Hurdle, on the same day.

That race, a Grade One three-mile hurdle, opens the Grand National meeting at 1400 BST, and will be televised on BBC2, with the feature race at 1505.

Denman will be ridden by Ruby Walsh for the first time since his 2009 success at Newbury and his rivals in Thursday’s three-mile Grade One chase include Nicky Henderson’s Punchestowns and Nacarat, trained by Tom George.

This season has not mapped out as planned for Punchestowns, though he did win on his most recent outing.