Nicky Henderson still hopes Pentland Hills can make his presence felt in the Unibet Champion Hurdle.
The Motivator gelding won each of his first three starts over jumps last season, including Grade One victories in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and at Aintree.
However, he has been beaten on each of his two outings so far this term – travelling strongly before faltering into fifth place in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December, before being pipped by Ballyandy in a Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock.
Pentland Hills is unlikely to run again before bidding for glory at Prestbury Park in March – and Henderson is keeping the faith.
He said: “It looks as if we might have to deliver him halfway up the run-in if we are going to win the Champion Hurdle!
“I don’t think I will give him another run (before Cheltenham), because (stablemate) Fusil Raffles will almost certainly go to Wincanton for the Kingwell.
“Pentland Hills has come out of both races he has run in this season as the best horse, but he hasn’t won either of them. Now obviously, that is a concern.
“When he won the Triumph Hurdle and the Grade One at Aintree, he just went off and won them. I don’t think there is anything that I need to worry about, but I don’t know.”
Pentland Hills is a best priced 7-1 for the Champion Hurdle on March 10, with his stablemate Epatante heading the market at 4-1.