Now McGinty is on course for the Coral Welsh National following his fine effort behind Santini in the Future Stars Intermediate Chase at Sandown.
Stuart Edmunds’ chaser made most of the running in Sunday’s Listed contest over three miles and was beaten only a head by Nicky Henderson’s highly-rated performer.
The Chepstow marathon beckons, and Edmunds has to decide whether to give the eight-year-old a run before that high-profile Christmas target.
The Newport Pagnell trainer was delighted with Now McGinty at Sandown, but is understandably hoping he does not pay for finishing so close to a Gold Cup contender – who was significantly further ahead of him in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last season.
Edmunds said: “My horse was very ready.
“He had an away day and he was very fit. I don’t know how wound up Mr Henderson’s horse was.
“I just hope the handicapper doesn’t take it literally, because Now McGinty has proven he is not that level.
“The aim is the Welsh National, and we have six weeks to go. It is whether we go somewhere in between or not – but I’d say we probably won’t.
“Now McGinty is a very hardy horse. He has got his own way of doing things at home – and he is the most awkward horse to deal with at home, but he is tough.”