Don’t forget about Simonsig at the 2015 Festival
Trainer Nicky Henderson decided to give Simonsig a season off after picking up a leg injury, and that patience could well see him reap the rewards with the dual Cheltenham Festival winner at next year’s four-day spectacular.
The eight-year-old is unbeaten in three runs over fences, but has not jumped a fence in public since winning the 2013 Arkle Trophy in exuberant style.
The gelding stayed on strongly that day to beat Baily Green by a comfortable 2 1/4 lengths despite pulling like a train throughout, and it was a victory which suggested he had the world at his feet and the potential to go right to the very top.
He was installed as second favourite for this year’s Queen Mother Champion chase behind Sprinter Sacre on the back of it, but like his stable companion was destined not to make the starting line-up having failed to recover from an injury to his near fore leg.
It was a huge blow for the Henderson team, as he would have been bidding for a hat-trick of Festival victories after easily landing the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle in 2012.
However, after talks with owner Ronnie Bartlett the Seven Barrows’ handler decided that they had time on their side and Simonsig will now be aimed at the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day 2014.
It is a move which looks a shrewd one given how classy he is, and success in the King George would open up a whole host of potential options for him at next year’s Festival.
If he gets the 3m trip well then he would be an obvious contender for the Gold Cup, for which he is currently 20/1 with Coral.
Should he find it stretching his stamina too far, then the Ryanair Chase over 2m 5f or even the Queen Mother over the minimum trip of 2m would be viable alternatives.
Indeed, horses to have won or been placed in the Arkle have a superb record in the Queen Mother and should Sprinter Sacre fail to fully recover from his irregular heartbeat problems then he would be more than an able deputy.
Whatever race he ends up going for, there is no doubt he is going to be a major player if showing that he retains all his ability on his return to action.
He is certainly in the right hands to get him back on track, and is one horse that should definitely not be forgotten about come next March.