Neil Mulholland is confident Milkwood can outrun his odds in the McCoy Contractors County Hurdle at Cheltenham on Friday week.
The nine-year-old was beaten just over two lengths into third place in the 2021 running of the fiercely-competitive handicap before going on to win the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr and finish second in the Galway Hurdle later that summer.
It is fair to say results have been mixed since, with a fourth place at Wetherby last month his latest effort.
But his rating has dropped from a high of a 151 to a perch of 141 ahead of his return to the Cotswolds, meaning he is now only 1lb higher than when he lined up for the same race two years ago – and Mulholland believes the general 25-1 shot is back to his best.
“He’ll run in the County Hurdle and he’s back to where he was, hopefully,” said the trainer.
“He’s on a dangerous mark now and I’d say he’s as good as he’s been for a long time.
“I’d say Sam (Twiston-Davies) will probably ride him.”
Mulholland’s other likely Festival runner is Lord Accord, who is primed to line up for Tuesday’s Ultima Handicap Chase – a race the Somerset handler won with The Druids Nephew in 2015.
Lord Accord won over fences at Cheltenham earlier in the season and has been saved for the Festival since finishing down the field in the Cleeve Hurdle in late January.
A decision on who will replace his sidelined rider Richie McLernon has yet to be made.
Mulholland added: “The horse is in good order. He had an away-day yesterday (Tuesday) and I’m very happy with him.
“We’ll decide later in the week who rides him, once we’ve had a good look at the confirmations.
“We’ve won the Ultima before and had a good few horses placed at the Festival. I wouldn’t be surprised if both horses run big races this year as they’re going there in good order.”