Barry Geraghty believes Oscar Whisky was not at his best in the Cleeve Hurdle on Saturday, despite him proving his stamina over three miles.
Nicky Henderson's dual Aintree Hurdle winner has posed an ante-post conundrum for punters with some believing he holds a lively chance in the Champion Hurdle and others thinking he is tailor-made for the World Hurdle.
Saturday's run was only the second time he has tackled the World Hurdle trip of three miles, finishing fifth in the big race last season, and he went down only narrowly in heavy ground to Reve De Sivola.
However, Geraghty did not feel comfortable at any stage, suggesting better can be expected in March. "He never travelled with anywhere near the same zest as he has done his last few runs," the Meath man explained.
"We beat Crack Away Jack by 19 lengths the last day, yet he was on my tail the whole way and I could never shake him off.
"I don't think we saw the best of him, but I think he got the trip so the World Hurdle is a big option for him.
"At two and a half miles I wasn't going anywhere near as well as I should have been, or even at two miles. He might have more pace on better ground, but he's won on very soft ground – the ground isn't really an issue.
"I think Reve De Sivola is the one to beat in March, but he might be ground dependent."
Once again, there are no National Hunt fixtures taking place across the Irish Sea today as the weather continues to cause wholesale problems.
Tomorrow's card at Leicester will be an all-chase affair after officials decided to call off the four scheduled hurdles.
Elsewhere, Wincanton has a contingency plan in place should heavy rain render the hurdle course unraceable for its meeting on Thursday. If that is the case the intention is to stage an all-chase card.
Jumpers do get a chance to strut their stuff today on the all-weather at Lingfield, where The Fonz stands out at the "Jumpers' Bumper" fixture.
A decent surface is crucial to Renee Robeson's seven-year-old, and back as a two-year-old he finished fourth here, beaten less than two lengths, on what was his second racecourse start.
While he has not been disgraced since going hurdling, this ought to be much more his cup of tea.
One or two nice horses pop up on these cards and that is the case with Shuil Royale, which should also collect. A dual bumper winner, he showed his well-being when unlucky not to open his account over fences at Taunton, going down by a short head, and he can make amends here.