Donald McCain believes the performance of Cinders And Ashes in the Stanjames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday week will determine his credentials for Cheltenham in March.
The five-year-old, who is currently 9-4 favourite with the race sponsors, concluded last season with a tenacious victory over another Newcastle contender, Darlan, in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
"He's doing grand at the minute and looks well going into the Fighting Fifth," said McCain.
"I think he is a very good horse and I just hope he can get up to win, but it'll be tough. I have entered him because he won the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Festival, so he has every right to be there.
"However, looking further ahead, whether he can win a Champion Hurdle or not, I just don't know yet. We'll see at Newcastle."
The Cheshire-based trainer is bidding for a third Fighting Fifth success in three years, after winning the last two renewals with the Tim Leslie-owned pair, Peddlers Cross and Overturn.
McCain said: "Overturn is in good order at the minute and came back (from his chasing debut) looking well. I was very pleased with his performance at Sandown.
"Eventually, we will be looking for the best two-mile novice chase races for him, but he needs to get some more experience first.
"Peddlers Cross is also grand at the minute and in class work now. He isn't ready to run yet, but he is coming along nicely. There is no reason why he shouldn't regain his past form because he is a very good horse.
"We aren't sure whether he will be best suited to two miles or three this year. We'll have to wait and see how he performs throughout the season."
28 February 2015Vautour excites Mullins in workout
Festival plans fluid for Cyclone
Elliott posse work at Leopardstown
Geraghty confirmed for Master
Wayward back on right track
Investment gains Greatwood gold
Bal win delights connections
Glinger burns off Kelso rivals
Pipe proves he's a Soll man
Geraghty shines on Leave It
Walter back for another victory
Irish pair do battle in France
Geraghty: Sprinter will be fitter
Wylie lines up Cheltenham team
Twiston-Davies Blak in business
Divine Bishop on Festival trail
Irish duo set Doncaster poser
Night riding high for Grimthorpe
Glingerburn facing another battle
Pipe targets Aintree with veterans
Carlito primed for Kelso return
McCoy not planning Festival goodbye
Bridge camp praying for rain
Cook suspended from riding
27 February 2015Golantilla in Ballsbridge bid
Safety strikes in Zabeel Mile
Fehily confirms Zarkandar mount
Lieutenant bosses Purcell rivals
Dettori delights on Dubday
Many Clouds goes back to school
Maguire loses appeal
New One at ease for Faugheen clash
Foxrock still in Gold Cup picture
Apache ready to take flight in JLT
26 February 2015Higgins back in business
Cookie poised for April return
Silvi threat unsettles Riches camp
No going concerns at Cheltenham
Fry resigned to Fehily Ruby loss
Trip key to Balder success - King
McLernon gets nod for Holywell
Salsify leads Foxhunter field
Mullins unveils Bumper entry
Curtis hoping for Cross revival
Aurore misses Mares' date
25 February 2015Ton-up for in-form Pipe
Big display from George veteran
Credit to join the Premier league
Jack to duck Grimthorpe date
Tea preparing for National tilt
Geraghty rates Whisper World claims
George retains Module faith
Uramazin ready to go again
Coney team wait on Festival call
Aintree on Ceremony agenda
Silvi is all Gold - Nicholls
Bright Clouds gets serious
Puffin swoops at Leicester
Nicholls: Rheu call tough for Sam
Nicholls suffers Hinterland blow
Own on Cheltenham trail
BHA issues new anti-doping rules
Walsh hoping for a Champagne moment
That ruled out of World bid