LEOPARDSTOWN'S Lexus Chase is the most likely next port of call for First Lieutenant following his excellent run in defeat at Down Royal on Saturday.
The dual Grade One-winning hurdler progressed throughout his novice campaign over fences, running his best race of the season when a superb second to Bobs Worth in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham.
Mouse Morris' seven-year-old looked in need of the run when fourth behind Sizing Europe on his Gowran Park return and he made the anticipated progress to go down by just a length to Kauto Stone in Saturday's JNwine.com Champion Chase.
Morris had been considering a tilt at the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on December 1 for his charge, but the handicapper has forced him into a rethink.
"It was a good run and there's not a bother on him after the race, which is the main thing," said Morris.
"I was delighted with how he ran and I think it was the right call in the end not to travel to Wetherby for the Charlie Hall.
"We had been thinking about going for the Hennessy in Newbury with him, but the handicapper has put him up, so that's out now.
"He'll probably wait until Christmas for either the Lexus or the King George. The Lexus would be more likely I'd say."
First Lieutenant is 20-1 for this season's Cheltenham Gold Cup, a race Morris won with War Of Attrition in 2006, and Morris does not believe it is out of the question his gelding can improve enough to become a serious candidate for the Prestbury Park blue riband.
"He was staying on well in Down Royal and I think he'd be better back on a stiffer track. Even War Of Attrition got beat in the Down Royal race," said Morris.
"This lad has to improve to be a Gold Cup horse, but I do think he'll come on a fair bit from his run the other day."