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."
19 June 2013Guest has excellent chance
Brittain sweet on Rizeena
Team O'Brien aim for perfect Ten
Chigun aiming for Cambridge glory
Camelot bids for redemption
O'Neill ace proves too sharp
Ballydoyle in command in Coventry
Dawn delivers in thriller
Sole powers to sprint glory
O'Brien sounds War cry
18 June 2013Stevens is king of the Castle
Al Thani snaps up Sandiva
Minute's silence remembers Cecil
Duntle on Cambridge duty
Alive and Just in Ribblesdale mix
Passage heads Gold field
Deegan considers Soprano options
Toro out for Palace glory
Cecil's words not lost on Ponsonby
Dawn out for Palace redemption
Hawkwood supplemented for Hardwicke
Flotilla To Drop Back In Trip
Cecil's Chigun in Cambridge action
Al Kazeem and Camelot clash again
De Kock hoping to make history
War ready for Royal Ascot battle
Kingdom set to reign over Ascot
17 June 2013Magician set for Palace showdown
Cat clings on for Carroll
Three more winners for Lady Cecil
Monaghan delivers on Midnight
Treve in stunning Diane win
Sapphire target for Trees
Beckett mulls Secret options
Nicholls has broken wrist
16 June 2013Songbird aiming to fly high
Movie has Newmarket on radar
Fahey juveniles primed for action
Stubbs leads O'Brien Coventry team
Salsify on summer break
Kempton target for Benbulben
Top trio head Palace runners
Shea Shea shoots for Stand glory
Animal heads Queen Anne field
Saint-Cloud aim for Dunaden
Magician to be declared for Palace
Soul all heart in York sprint
Kingsgate rules Musselburgh
Sam too sharp for rivals
Hughes makes it pay with Knight
Balding on mark with double
Morawij in a hurry in Scurry
Bartley is queen for a day
Big guns to clash in Coronation