Paul Nicholls is not perturbed by a face-off for his promising chaser Greaneteen with Nicky Henderson's Shishkin in the Grade 2 Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase on Monday, December 27.
The seven-year-old would have to shoulder a Grade 1 penalty, but that was well earned given his display in the Tingle Creek at Sandown.
Beaten just two lengths in the Champion Chase in March, Nicholls is confident Greaneteen, who will be the mount of Bryony Frost, is still improving.
Should he clash with last season's Arkle winner Shishkin - who is still not a certain runner given he was under the weather at the time of the Tingle Creek and Nicky Henderson has been rushing to get him ready - punters would be in for a post-Christmas treat.
"Greaneteen is incredibly well, he astonishes me with how he keeps improving physically. He hardly lost a kilo in the Tingle Creek and is obviously at the top of his game," said Nicholls.
"He's in good shape, he stayed on strongly at Sandown and he's definitely going to run. We're looking forward to seeing if Shishkin turns up. He loves going right-handed, it suits him well. He's very versatile.
"You'd have thought the other day he had a hard race, but he came out of it bouncing and has been very fresh since. We're very happy with him and can't wait to run him.
"Obviously Shishkin had a great season last year and was well placed, and won well at Cheltenham and Aintree but he has to step up now against the big boys.
"He's obviously very smart but first time out, we're certainly not afraid of taking him on, anyway."
Nicholls runs another of his big hopes for the future in Bravemansgame in the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices' Chase, with the six-year-old unbeaten in his first two races over fences.
Should the rain come, he is also set for a big clash with Lucinda Russell's Ahoy Senor.
"He is a proper horse and I know he's stronger and better than last year," said Nicholls.