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."
13 December 2013Captain on course for Kempton
Kings aiming to reign for Pipe
Lavelle seeking Easter reward
McCoy not expecting to beat Murray
Bravo for Oscar at Cheltenham
Creepy on course for Challow
Court team mull next move
New tackles International test
Jockeys Fund boost from Limerick
Alexander suffers facial injuries
Bolger back on cross-country trail
Theatre puts on Peterborough show
Artiste draws away from rivals
National hero lined up for Wetherby
Tizzard using Hennessy as a Guide
Whisky out for early redemption
Spirit going for golden double
Break for Balder after Sandown run
McCoy wants rain for Fishers
12 December 2013Pulses set racing at Newcastle
'Nasty cut' for Alexander
Dr Turner to leave BHA role
No problems at Kempton
McCoy mulls Gold decision
Butler appeals five-year ban
Burgoyne to take Triumph test
Fog claims Kempton card
Honeyball upbeat despite Regal loss
Byron has more targets overseas
O'Meara considers Ascot raid
Johnson excited by Captain's return
African reverts to timber
Return to Oz is Simenon's goal
11 December 2013Kempton hope for third-time lucky
McNeile leaves Cheltenham role
Kempton to inspect again
Fog claims Lingfield card
Three held over £2.4m VAT fraud
Home Farm denied Gold run
Three held in tax probe
BHA's Brickell at corruption summit
Hills has Smart purring
McCoy praise for retired Binocular
St Nick continues recovery fight
Big guns remain in Navan feature
New course key for Attaglance
Diakali team consider Relkeel run
Ruby given chase entry
Star pair head International list
10 December 2013Binocular bows out
Rock team plan positive tactics
Gold fails to sparkle
Regal takes Hexham test
Thyestes aim for Cootamundra
Walsh sweet on Arvika switch
Walters to present McNamara cheque
Aintree aim for Busy
Grand National aim for Your Busy
Walters to present McNamara cheque
Four-star Harley at Wolverhampton
Jacob all set for Al Ferof
Sprinter prospect exciting Kempton
Winner a Strongpoint for Crawford
Hurricane honoured in HRI awards
Ground key to Topper plans
African chasing Uttoxeter spoils
Prince set for Cheltenham Gold run
Betfair goal for Trouble