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."
29 January 2015Bayan handed French mission
Ffos Las blow for Carruthers
McCoy in line for Coneygree mount
Blossoming Serge in Supreme hat
Peace declared for Triumph
Hercules features in Bartlett
Exciting Eagle ready for action
Ellison on Red alert
Brother sets sail for Festival date
Games given Neptune entry
Ferof takes Ascot acid test
Cogry has dual Festival options
Hourigan duo to duck National Trial
Salsify back in Foxhunter frame
Wintry Catterick calls inspection
Chepstow on weather watch
Musselburgh bids to beat weather
Legend in line for Kempton repeat
Henderson at Peace for Triumph
Henderson primes Betfair squad
Henderson happy with Sprinter
Unioniste set for Newbury outing
Bolger left in awe of super Sceaux
Sam set for Gold run
Denman date for Obeaux
28 January 2015Charities get O'Sullevan boost
Betway boosts sponsorship portfolio
Estrella waits on record bid
Spring not on Focus agenda
Warne on comeback trail
Warne on comeback trail
Mann planning Bleu National prep
Henderson dealt Triolo blow
Tornado blows hot at Taunton
Mann duo head to Musselburgh
Ginge given Scilly date
Cue Card goes back to basics
Eagle ready for hurdling bow
Shark angling for Punchestown prize
Nicholls retains Zarkandar faith
Ruby handed World ticket
27 January 2015No worries at Wetherby
Fry issue Puzzle warning
Grimthorpe goal for Milan
Ellison duo primed for Supreme test
Mulholland maps out Festival plans
Master retains Festival options
Doubt team seek jumping improvement
Dettori possible for National role
Uttoxeter bid appeals for Murphy
Ryanair defence likely for Dynaste
Palace stars in Towton fifteen
Gilgamboa set for longer trip
Jezki 'fine' after Hurricane defeat
Sire satisfies in schooling session
Sceaux leaves Mullins purring
Faugheen fancied for Walsh mount
26 January 2015Aintree on the agenda for Concerto
Light camp cool on Newbury raid
Zarib earmarked as Winter warmer
Lingfield washed away
Lingfield washed away
'Awesome' Sceaux in Arkle romp
Mullins lands the treble
Super Fly proves Champion again
Concerto plans hinge on scan
Sherwood - More to come from Clouds
Skelton nominates Bartlett for Risk
Bridgwater thrilled with Bolster
Foxrock given Hennessy green light
Meade gives Monksland World aim