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 July 2015Tributes pour in for O'Sullevan
It's Shanahan's turn at Galway
Sir Peter O'Sullevan dies, aged 97
Kachy not for catching in Molecomb
No Sussex regrets for O'Brien
Solow flying high at Goodwood
Highland reels in Gordon rivals
Fortune favours Twiston-Davies
Peacock pair vie for Galway glory
Shalaa in top trim for Richmond
Dunlop excited by Trip to Goodwood
Moviesta gets King George go-ahead
Karakontie has Deauville date
Dog delivers for Mullins and Walsh
Tint proves Topaz jewel
Maguire back in the saddle
Blue back with a bang
Tough Toormore takes Lennox glory
All roads lead to Arc for Postponed
Logan shines for Kirby
Frankie grabs Gold at Goodwood
So seeking Sussex success
28 July 2015King targeting Molecomb reign
Mullins hoping Bob is back
Wayman lands BHA role
Medrano eyeing Gordon glory
Options open for Force
Group race aim for Nisser
Modem takes control
Solitaire shines in Weld double
Bach in business
Vastonea out to sparkle in Topaz
Tanzeel unlikely for Cup date
Birch bids for Vintage victory
Toor targets Lennox triumph
Gleneagles misses Solow clash
Charlton eager for Golden Test
27 July 2015Modem takes control
Bach in business
Morny 'ideal race' for Gutaifan
Fahey ponders options for Guest
Perth double-header a washout
Sovereign option for Kodi
Salisbury option for Salvo
Group One trio top Nassau entries
Rain claims Tuesday Perth card
Perth card in doubt
McDonald nets Carlisle hat-trick
Mondialiste impresses in Pomfret
Injury in stalls forces Pilot out
Coleman lands Ferguson role
Gutaifan takes Papin honours
O'Brien plots Goodwood Air raid
Toormore seeks Lennox redemption
Buratino to take flight in Phoenix
Sovereign too soon for Elm Park
26 July 2015Lonsdale aim for admirable Cookie
Murphy looking for Top performance
Rizeena to chart Rothschild route
Erupt firing for Niel Arc prep
Meade sweet on Hugh's for Kurland
Newland considers Pineau future
Injured McCullagh 'very stable'
Ship ready to Fire in Pomfret
BHA to launch Bid inquiry
Post delivers in King George epic
Horn set York mission
Speedy Tanzeel downs Dash rivals
Guest is heaven sent for Fahey
Tullius topples Tonto at York
Goodwood heroes back for more
Besh the best in Princess Margaret
Sixth Sense an Ascot blockbuster