Nigel Hawke will try to avoid the big guns over two miles for as long as possible as he plots the next race for his smart performer Speredek.
The Devon trainer swerved the Tingle Creek Chase due to the presence of Altior, and now has three options for his talented seven-year-old.
There is the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on December 27 and a two-mile handicap chase at Sandown on January 5 he won last winter.
The third possibility is the Clarence House Chase at Ascot on January 19, in which Speredek was second to Un De Sceaux last season.
“He’s fine, but unfortunately the best two-mile chasers for a long time are following us about. That’s why we didn’t go for the Tingle Creek Chase,” said Hawke.
“There’s the Desert Orchid Chase next, but we might go there because we are a bit restricted going right-handed. It’s a bit unfortunate, but there’s nothing we can do about it.
“He’s in great form. It was a really good run at Ascot last time. It was just a shame we got nabbed on the line.
“It’s a difficult one. It would be great to find a nice handicap, going that way round.
“There is the possibility of that race he won last year at Sandown, so we’ve got three options – Kempton, Sandown or Ascot.
“You should never be afraid of one horse (Altior), but we sidestepped the Tingle Creek for that reason.”
Hawke is reassured time is still very much on his side.
“Speredek is only seven – but with his style of racing, he carries his heart on his sleeve,” he added.
“In 12 months’ time, we might be able to take on those boys, but I just think at this stage he just isn’t quite there yet.
“He puts everything into his races. It’s difficult with him, and I’d love to step up a bit in trip with him as well.
“I wouldn’t be scared to go to Punchestown again. The ground dried out a bit too quick for him (last season).
“We are a bit limited to where we can go. He’s not as good a horse going left-handed.”