By Simon Jackson.
The King George VI Chase has been highlighted as a likely target for Simonsig, who is back in training with Nicky Henderson after missing last season due to injury.
The winner of eight of his nine starts under rules – that includes victories in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle and Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy – has not raced since March 2013 after needing time to recover from a problem with his near foreleg.
The eight-year-old grey gelding is currently joint-favourite with Silviniaco Conti at 5-1 for the King George at Kempton Park on Boxing Day (BetVictor/Stan James) and was the subject of an upbeat report from his trainer at the weekend.
“Simonsig is a seriously good horse,” Henderson told Channel 4 Racing. “He’s the only horse we had two years ago who would be capable of going with Sprinter Sacre and very capable of doing so.
“Last year we never got as far as working him because that splint interfered. We got him to slow work but never got him to fast work.
“There is no doubt we’ll be trying Simonsig over further. He won a Neptune so he’s proved two and a half and two five at Cheltenham is no problem.
“If you had to have a little guess we might be looking more at the King George, but that’s a long way away.
“His splint has been repaired and there is no reason why he shouldn’t be every bit as good and he is seriously good.”
In other news, Henderson is pleased with the progress of 2013 Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase winner, Sprinter Sacre, who is also back in work after suffering a heart scare last season.
“Sprinter Sacre’s been back in five weeks and cantering for two,” Henderson continued. “He looks exceptionally well and so far it’s been great.
“You have no option I don’t think, but to go straight to the Tingle Creek [at Sandown on December 6]. There’s nowhere else to go.
“He would go for the Shloer at Cheltenham if he was ready. I just think we’ll see how things are going. There isn’t much for him other than the Tingle Creek and the Victor Chandler before Cheltenham.”
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