Donald McCain was reluctant to nominate firm targets for Peddlers Cross after his stable star made a reasonably satisfying comeback in a jumpers' bumper at Kempton.
Entitled to be rusty as he had not competed since his disappointing effort in the Jewson Novices' Chase at the last Cheltenham Festival, the previous year's Champion Hurdle runner-up looked in rude health as the field swung into the home straight of a BetVictor-sponsored two-miler designed for chasers.
Jason Maguire was forced to switch the 5-4 favourite at a vital moment and Peddlers Cross was unable to resist a challenge on the outside from Sam Winner (7-1) and ended up finishing two lengths adrift in second.
"Don't ask me where he goes next," said McCain, who has entered the eight-year-old in both the Champion and Ladbrokes World Hurdle later on.
"Jason was happy with everything. He was going to pick up and he has taken a blow and flattened out a bit, which is fine. He missed a couple of pieces of work this week. He's relaxing better but still showing plenty of boot.
"What we need to do is find out where it's possible to go racing. I'll have a long talk with the owner, but I want to try him over further and we'll go wherever we have to (to run)."
Sam Winner, who was fourth in the 2011 Triumph, had a disastrous spell novice chasing last term and Dan Skelton, assistant to trainer Paul Nicholls, said: "He had an operation on his knee and needed plenty of recuperation time. He'll go straight to Cheltenham now for the Pertemps."
Fair Trade (5-1) remembered his Flat speed of old as he sprinted an impressive two and a half lengths away from Pearl Swan in a jumpers' bumper for hurdlers.
Trainer Alan King said: "He was good enough to run in a 2000 Guineas years ago. His two hurdle runs have been on very testing ground and it was the ideal opportunity to get a gallop. He'll have an entry at Cheltenham (Supreme) and I'd like to see him on better ground. He'll need another run over hurdles first."
The 5-4 favourite Pearl Swan had been absent for 315 days and Charlie Liverton, representing owner Robin Geffen, said: "He was always vulnerable for being tapped for toe over two miles on the Flat, but it's good to see him back and hopefully it's all systems go for the Betfair Hurdle."
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