Thursday 22 March 2018

Soft going not a concern for Arkle favourite Simonsig

All eyes will be on Simonsig as the electric grey gets the chance to live up to his tall reputation in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

The Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old has dominated the ante-post market for the two-mile novice championship ever since he won his two races over fences at Ascot and Kempton by an aggregate margin of 84 lengths inside a week at Christmas time.

Twelve months ago his gifted stablemate Sprinter Sacre burst on the scene by blowing his Arkle rivals away.

Simonsig did his bit in 2012 by winning the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle and it is now his turn to strut his stuff over the bigger obstacles at jump racing's premier event, where he will face just six rivals.

"Simonsig has only had two runs, only six days apart, and he's got to jump around Cheltenham like a pro," said Henderson.

"He'll have to (do it) in an Arkle and there's no complacency in the camp, I can tell you.

"We ummed and ahhed whether to keep him back for the Champion Hurdle this year and not even go chasing, but he's built like a chaser - he's won point-to-points in Ireland.

"He's got a huge amount of speed, we were always going to come back to two miles this year even though he won the Neptune last year. We were always coming back to two miles whether it was over hurdles or fences.

"He has tremendous ability and enthusiasm for racing. It will do him no harm for Overturn to give him a lead - he has wonderful pace.

"We went two and a half last year just to be able to try to drop him in and go to sleep. Now it has gone soft, it is going to slow it down.

"We don't mind soft ground. I do know Donald's (McCain) horse (Overturn) is slightly ground dependent - he loves it very good."

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