Ground key to Freedom challenge
Steps To Freedom
(Healy Racing Photos)
The seven-year-old was strongly fancied for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle last season but trailed home in 14th place behind Cinders And Ashes.
Steps To Freedom won a handicap at Dundalk in the summer and, while he was found wanting in better class races, returned to win in terrific style with a tilt at the Champion Hurdle still an option.
The Co. Kildare handler told her website: "He had course form and we went back there as there was nowhere else to go with him the way the ground is.
"He did it well and has come out of the race well. I was concerned that the trip may have been a bit short for him, but he was the class act in the field and that showed.
"He has given us something to think about now in regards to the Champion Hurdle and we will see how the ground turns out at Cheltenham. I was very happy with him."
Owner Graham Wylie remains hopeful of John Smith's Grand National glory even though Tidal Bay has been ruled out of the Aintree highlight on April 6.