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."
6 July 2015Lee hoping for dream training start
Waady enters Haydock equation
Nassau next for Legatissimo
Mahsoob set for Wales's run
Brave team mull jumps option
Sapphire option for Fire
Waller eyeing Beau July glory
'Diamond' Ainippe delights Lyons
Another German Derby for Schiergen
No luck for Geraghty on return
Arc considered for Horn swansong
Tonto earmarked for York date
Pace set for July Stakes
Dods: Angel can embrace joy of six
Kurland set for Newmarket return
Outstanding third in Belmont Oaks
5 July 2015Geraghty unplaced on return
Galway beckons for 'improving' Wood
Mountain set for trip descent
No joy for Postulation in USA
Golden shines in Eclipse victory
Eye sees off Marathon rivals
Blond shows her true colours
Notarised lands Newton prize
Basem proves up to Challenge
Tiana takes Oaks triumph
Waady leads the Charge
Cymro claims Haydock honours
Maria added to Falmouth field
4 July 2015Horn calls the tune in Eclipse
Tiana takes Oaks triumph
Flash fires home
Majestic vies for Fairyhouse rule
Geraghty back in business
Walsh indebted to king Kauto
Angel confirmed Sandown non-runner
Doyle and Johnston shine at Sandown
Johnson scorches to fastest fifty
Windshear up for the Cup
Muhaarar in great form - Hills
Chantilly off the radar for Test
Gatsby sets sights on Horn
Queen aiming to reign in Oaks
Gosden respects Golden rivals
3 July 2015Cyclone set for Leopardstown outing
Waady aiming to step up
Angel major Sandown doubt
Strong Gosden hand at Newmarket
Doyle up for the Challenge
Sandown team mull watering plans
Kazeem on comeback trail
Lennox option for Limato
Magnificent seven for Elliott
Pendleton thrilled with first ride
Balding hoping for Park August run
Kirby unscathed in house fire
Pilot charters path to York
Provenance has claims on Sandown
Soapy out to slay Dragon rivals
Spencer rides Gatsby in Eclipse
Space considered for Ascot return