Colin Tizzard remains upbeat about Cue Card's chances of retaining his crown in the Betfair Chase at Haydock following his comprehensive defeat at Exeter on Tuesday.
Making his first appearance since filling the runner-up spot in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on St Stephen's Day, having missed the latter stages of last season with a pelvic injury, Cue Card was a hot favourite to win a second Haldon Gold Cup.
The eight-year-old was bang in contention turning for home, but weakened in the closing stages and finished a well-beaten fourth.
Tizzard's stable star finished third in last year's Exeter feature before going on to claim Grade One glory on Merseyside.
The Dorset trainer is again anticipating a bold show when he returns to Haydock on November 22.
Tizzard said: "He's come out of the race absolutely fine and I thought it was a goodish performance.
"It was always going to be very difficult giving all that weight to specialist two-milers and you have to remember he'd been off for 11 months.
"The two main horses (God's Own and Balder Succes) in front of him ran at Punchestown on May 1.
"Our horse stays well these days and looks like a stayer.
"He was right there with them until two out and I think, when you consider all the relevant factors, it was perfectly good run in the circumstances.
"It was an ideal prep run for Haydock. It worked last year and hopefully it will again. The Betfair (Chase) is just over two weeks away now, so we'll look forward to that."