The Aintree Hurdle remains the main objective for Thomas Darby despite his short-priced defeat at Fontwell on Sunday.
Having made a successful return to the smaller obstacles in the Matchbook Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle at Ascot last month, the Beneficial gelding was all the rage to follow up in the Grade Two National Spirit Hurdle.
However, Olly Murphy’s charge had to make do with minor honours in third behind the fast-finishing winner William Henry and Quel Destin.
The Warwickshire-based trainer is adamant the seven-year-old is better than he showed on the day – and hopes he can prove it on Merseyside.
Murphy said: “He had a very hard race and definitely won’t be going to Cheltenham.
“It didn’t work out for him on the day. He ended up in front after the other horse (Quel Destin) jinked at the start and everything that could go wrong did go wrong, but that’s racing.
“He’s come out of the race fine, so we’ll give him a bit of time and get him ready for Aintree – that’s definitely the plan.”