Mouse Morris believes China Rock is ready to show his true colours in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Saturday week.
The Punchestown Gold Cup hero missed the first part of the new campaign after suffering a setback and did not reappear until last month's Lexus Chase. He travelled as well as anything during the race, but predictably weakened in the home straight and passed the post well held in fifth.
Morris is confident his charge will strip fitter for his next run and is keen to see how he fares before making plans for the spring. He holds entries in both the Ryanair Chase and the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
Morris said: "China is going to run in the Hennessy and we'll see where we go after that. He's been in great form since Christmas. He ran well for a long way in the Lexus and just got tired.
"I think he's come on a ton for the run, so we'll see how he gets on next time and make a plan from there."
Two Morris inmates who are Festival-bound are First Lieutenant and Rule The World.
First Lieutenant was beaten just a head by Tidal Bay in the Lexus and appears set for the Gold Cup, while runaway Naas winner Rule The World is prominent in ante-post lists for both the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle and the Albert Bartlett.
"It's so far so good with them. We've had no hiccups yet but there is still over a month to go, which is a long time," said the trainer.
"Both horses are in good shape at the moment.
"I would say Rule The World will probably run in the two-mile-five-furlong race (Neptune), but I don't want to commit to that just yet."
22 December 2014Kingdoms to swerve Leopardstown
Moore glee at Grugy canter
Victory ready for Christmas cracker
Finale countdown for young guns
No rush for Ptit plan
Walsh has Kempton Fever
Skelton seeks greater Risk rewards
Master handed Festival aim
Gowran goal for Djakadam
Nicholls retain Zarkandar faith
Monbeg team wait on jockey plans
Goodwood announce Qatar deal
High hopes for Cue
Games ready for Challow date
Condon not appealing whip ban
Mogol makes it look easy
Derby hero Chaparral put down
Saphir adds sparkle to Feltham
Mullins star among Christmas seven
Walsh thrilled with Sceaux spin
February return likely for That
Lough still in Lexus frame
Milan primed for Chepstow return
21 December 2014Billy fine after Ascot spill
Hanlon hoping Cyclone strikes
Henderson pleased with big guns
Mulholland serves up Master-class
Bayan bags big Ascot prize
Broadway proves a show-stopper
Three Long Walks for super Sivola
Queen wears Listed crown
Nicholls strikes with Saint
Sceaux puts in impressive show
Silvi the star turn in King George
20 December 2014Sceaux puts in impressive show
Geraghty enthused by Bobs work
Walsh pain at Vautour defection
Billy puffing his chest out again
Master back in the spotlight
Grugy in line to start cantering
Newland seeks more from Re
Prize money boost in HRI initiative
Zig zips to impressive victory
New steroids policy delayed
Serge states Supreme case
Exciting Sceaux out at Fairyhouse
Firebird skips National service
19 December 2014Martin readying big guns
Hobbs on Garde at Ascot
Fry excited by Activial chance
The New One in Haydock return
Reve camp not expecting a hat-trick
King issues Chatez Triumph warning
Bolger searching for Mossey key
King weighs up Karezak options
Henderson hoping Bobs makes Lexus
Simonsig camp play the long game
In-form Mole buries Exeter rivals
Sedgefield hit with heavy fine
Star names check in for Ryanair
Bobs revved up for Lexus repeat
Knott disqualified for three years
Geraghty braced for power Serge
Geraghty excited by Josses return
Activial stars in Ladbroke field