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."
30 March 2017Barry Geraghty fit for Aintree action and planning Fairyhouse return on Sunday
Innocent Girl hits Taunton target for Harry Fry and Kieron Edgar
Grand National hope Stellar Notion to lead Aintree team for Henry de Bromhead
Brian Hughes booked for Vicente Grand National ride
Bryan Smart sets sights on Finals Day glory with Mythmaker
Trip To Paris to drop in class as Ed Dunlop seeks to reignite his spark
Martin Dwyer cleared to ride in Aintree bumper in honour of his late father
Injured jockey George Baker 'making really good progress'
Jamie Codd hails 'legend' On The Fringe ahead of Aintree treble bid
Roger Varian forced to withdraw Morando from Lincoln at Doncaster
Special Tiara pencilled in to dazzle at Sandown
'We're not going there just for the day out' - National hopes high for Lodge
Mr Clarkson motors to Sedgefield success for David Pipe
Gold Cup ace Robbie Power appointed retained jockey for Alan and Ann Potts
Supreme hero Labaik set for Aintree Sale at Grand National meeting
Mutakayyef likely to head straight to Royal Ascot after Dubai effort
Willie Mullins duo at head of weights for Topham Chase at Aintree
Appleby sets sights on Newmarket redemption for Jungle Cat after Dubai defeat
Carolinae on course for Finals Day date at Lingfield
Simon Dow weighing up options for Qatar winner Mr Scaramanga
Charlie Longsdon's Snow Leopardess in the hunt for Fairyhouse gold
29 March 2017Treaty Of Rome a topical winner at Southwell in Derek Shaw double
Joseph O'Brien considering Guineas prep for Intricately
Magical Memory set to defend York title on seasonal reappearance
Derby entrant Count Octave up and running at Wolverhampton
Le Mercurey to tackle National in Party Politics colours of Patricia Thompson
Evan Williams outlines Bet365 Gold Cup plan for Buywise
Barry Geraghty awaits scan results to determine Aintree fate
Jane Chapple-Hyam to link up with Michelle Payne for Kaspersky venture
Henry Candy happy to sit tight with Limato after Dubai disappointment
Neil King says Punchestown is 'Plan A' for Lil Rockerfeller
Michael Bell in no rush to map out seasonal gameplan with Big Orange
Nick Williams keen for Flying Tiger to earn his stripes in Aintree Grade One
28 March 2017Hattons Hill hits the heights again at Hexham
Former champion jockey Seb Sanders takes work-rider role with Charlie Appleby
Jeremy Gask delays retirement plans for Royal Ascot-bound Medicean Man
Mick Channon rates Naas winner Czabo 'a cracking broodmare prospect'
Willie Mullins to send small squad to Aintree
Gevrey Chambertin one of four stars to bow out for David Pipe
Brian Ellison's Tonto and Walker primed for Lincoln challenge at Doncaster
Jonjo O'Neill's Box Office puts up winning display at Market Rasen
Davy Russell booked by Tom George for Saint Are Grand National mount
Warren Greatrex maps out Aintree aims for Keeper Hill and La Bague Au Roi
Richard Johnson pays tribute to 'fantastic' Reve De Sivola
Arctic Fire pencilled in for Champion date at Punchestown
Roger Varian looking to Coronation Cup for Postponed redemption
Arrogate takes a break as Breeders' Cup repeat remains ultimate goal
27 March 2017Ex-jockey Allan Mackay in hospital after fall on Newmarket gallops
Morando among Lincoln acceptors for Roger Varian
Toscanini joins Richard Fahey to act as Ribchester's pacemaker
End of an era as Ballymacoll dispersal sales announced by Tattersalls
Flying start for Aidan O'Brien as new Irish Flat season kicks off at Naas
Aidan O'Brien targets Dundalk comeback for unbeaten Classic hope Caravaggio
Sam Twiston-Davies and Paul Nicholls dominate at Wincanton
Anseanachai Cliste prevails in Ulster National thriller at Downpatrick
In-form Noel Fehily eager to take National chance on Blaklion
Park Express delight for Mick Channon and Graham Lee with Czabo
Mark Walsh to have Cheltenham injury progress assessed
Meade readies Aclaim for Lockinge bid
Martyn Meade has Craven Stakes in mind for Classic contender Eminent