Trainer Donald McCain believes Peddlers Cross is as good as he has ever been as he aims to get his career back on track in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at next month's Cheltenham Festival.
Having returned to hurdling at the start of the current campaign, various training problems kept the eight-year-old off the track until he finished second in a jumpers' bumper at Kempton in late January.
He got back to winning ways in solid, if unspectacular, style in a conditions hurdle at Musselburgh this month and although McCain was slightly downbeat immediately afterwards, consultation with stable jockey Jason Maguire left him far happier.
Peddlers Cross had to take second billing behind Arkle-bound stable companion Overturn as McCain proudly paraded his Cheltenham-bound inmates on Tuesday, but members of the gathered press were left in no doubt about the regard in which 'Peddlers' is still held by his trainer.
McCain said: "Everyone has an opinion about him. I'd sooner have him in the yard than not, he's my superstar and it feels a bit odd not bringing him out last (to parade). We've had niggly little problems, but nothing worth talking about, he's in great nick and his work has not changed.
"He had a run round Kempton, enjoyed it and came on for it. He went to Musselburgh and I would be the first to say I expected him to be more impressive.
"I walked off to see Jason after the race and he was shocked by my outlook. He was very happy with him, he said he settled well, travelled well and jumped great. Jason was minding him up the straight. He's a very smart horse and his work is very special. He's the best work horse I've got, the best I've seen."
While the main question mark hanging over Peddlers Cross is whether he remains the horse of old, he also needs to prove he stays the World Hurdle distance of three miles.
"Will he win a World Hurdle? I haven't a clue, but I would be expecting him to be travelling very sweetly down to the second-last and what happens from there I don't know," said McCain.
"We'd love to have found out if he stays three miles before now, but with the weather and whatever else we've not been able to. There's nothing he's shown me that suggests he won't stay. He's more settled than he used to be and he will travel for a long, long way."
23 July 2014Midgley delivers Silva service
Trainer caught up in morphine case
Lyons takes aim at Tyros double
Sunset shines for Her Majesty
Feed company launches investigation
Raydara facing Flash test
Prize boost for Newmarket heats
Toast team offer American excuse
Field pitch perfect for Ascot raid
Galway on Panama agenda
Panther sidesteps George date
Toast team offer American excuse
Gosden team among Leger entries
Hughes' duo primed for Plate
Cooper hearing concludes
Goodwood target for Tropics
Edison set for Galway glory bid
Ferguson plotting Galway raid
Queen's Estimate tests positive
Moonlight shines at Musselburgh
Taghrooda could go off favourite
Signal pointed at Phoenix
Course specialist in Ascot return
Bary plots Arc route for Spiritjim
Charlton weighs up Kazeem options
Varian seeking York glory
High hopes for Odeliz
22 July 2014Strangeway targets Galway riches
Grade One status for Mares' event
Halford retains Certerach faith
HRI unveil 2015 plans
Buick on Ascot weather watch
Minella to take Plate test
Scudamore banned for course blunder
Toscanini team mull options
Faydhan team in no rush
Fast Kaar given Dewhurst target
Pique Sous confirmed for Galway
Hannon team cool on Nunthorpe bid
Channon excited by Amralah progress
Haggas expects Hanagan to ride Tag
21 July 2014Ebor the Clever choice for Cookie
Deauville mission for Fiesolana
Chicquita in Yorkshire Oaks frame
Magical Moore shines again
Kool result for Hannon
Guest considers Memory options
Euro stays with Botti
Ascot on Moohaarib agenda
Injury blow for Boistron team
Encke set for Glorious return
No hurry for Tiggy target
No rush for East aim
20 July 2014Sous heads Galway Hurdle betting
McCoy savours overtaking Pipe
Bracelet glitters in Irish Oaks
Whittington pounces in Anglesey
Music masters Hackwood rivals
Dazzling Tiggy in Nunthorpe frame
Gutsy Ansgar makes all
India too hot in Curragh opener
Fourth for Kazeem on return
Kosika crushes Newbury rivals