With a stable crammed full of top-level performers capable of making an impact across every National Hunt division, big things are once again expected of trainer Colin Tizzard.

Having saddled no fewer than nine Grade One winners last season, the pressure is on for the Milborne Port handler to maintain such high standards and raise the bar again.

While Thistlecrack and Native River are expected to play their part when returning later in the campaign, much of the early-season chatter surrounds exciting novice chaser Finian's Oscar.

The Grade One-winning hurdler could start off at Chepstow on Saturday, ground permitting.

"He came with a big reputation last year and has fulfilled that in spades. He is a beautiful horse. Robbie Power schooled him and you would have thought he was a handicap chaser," said Tizzard.

"He could easily end up as an Arkle horse, as he is not short of pace. There is the JLT at Cheltenham now, but the more prestigious race is the Arkle."

Although Thistlecrack was forced to miss the Cheltenham Gold Cup after sustaining a tendon injury, Tizzard is confident the multiple Grade One winner can return to the peak of his powers in time to defend his King George VI Chase crown at Kempton on Boxing Day

"He is cantering now and has been in for a couple of months, he came in early August," said Tizzard.

"He has had plenty of walking. He will have one race before the King George, that is our aim. We have got to decide what there is in that little block, it could be he goes over hurdles.

"It was a good performance in the King George, but we have come to expect that. "He was a World Hurdle winner with almost his head in his chest and as a novice expectations were high.

"He was a good horse in February and that setback won't make any difference at all."

One type of horse Tizzard has yet to really truly encounter is a genuine Champion Hurdle contender, but if all goes to plan Pingshou could be the one to fill that void.

"Last season was basically his first season racing and he got up to 150. We are going to see if we can turn him into a Champion Hurdle horse," said Tizzard.

"He will start off next month and he could go up to Newcastle for the Fighting Fifth. If he is not good enough we will turn round at Christmas and go novice chasing with him.

"He was good at Aintree last year and he only just got touched off at Punchestown."

Few horses in training have a public following like Cue Card and Tizzard feels he still has plenty of life left in him despite fast approaching his 12th birthday.

"He is ready and has been in a long time. I thought he needed the run a bit at Wetherby last year, but I am going to try to make sure he doesn't this time,"said Tizzard. "He is getting older and doesn't need to go there 95 per cent but right on the boil.

"For me, he is as good as he has ever been. We will probably go the Ascot Chase after Christmas, then to Cheltenham. Whether we go to the Gold Cup or the Ryanair will be decided later on."

Although Fox Norton proved no match for Altior on his return from injury at Newbury in February, the seven-year-old showed his true colours at Aintree and Punchestown, a haul Tizzard hopes he can add to this season.

"He will go the two-mile chase route, starting off with the Shloer Chase, then the Tingle Creek," said Tizzard, who will this year have Bryan Cooper riding the horses in his string owned by Alan Potts.

"He was brilliant at the end of last season at Aintree and Punchestown and was only beaten a nose in the Champion Chase.

"You have got to stay in the Champion Chase as they go hard and he has got some cracking form over two miles and we will be exploiting that route."

If there was an award for the bravest horse in training, then Native River would be a red-hot contender following wins in the Hennessy and Welsh National.

Although the seven-year-old is unlikely to be seen out before Christmas hopes are high he can be ready in time for a second shot at the Gold Cup.

Tizzard said: "He will start a bit later as he shook himself up in the Gold Cup. He will have one run before the Gold Cup and will probably go to Newbury for the race he won last year. We will campaign him in the second half of the season, when all the big money is about.

"Last season he won a Hennessy and a Welsh National and we had been to the well a few times and he was only beaten two lengths in a Gold Cup. If we can get him smack on for that again, we can then go on to Aintree and Punchestown afterwards."