Ryanair surely the Cheltenham aim for Nicky Henderson’s Simonsig
It must be tough for connections of Simonsig, knowing that in any normal year they would have a leading candidate for the Queen Mother Champion Chase on their hands.
Sadly for them – and gloriously for racing fans – this isn’t any normal year, as the ultimate 2m chasers’ contest will in all likelihood include Sprinter Sacre, a horse sure to be the shortest-priced favourite in the Cheltenham 2014 odds.
It’s extremely bold to take on the horse known as ‘Mourinho’ at Nicky Henderson’s Seven Barrows yard at the best of times, but with 2013 Arkle Chase king Simonsig a stablemate of the most electrifying jumper on the circuit it seems all the more unlikely.
Having won his first two races over fences by an alarming aggregate distance of 84 lengths, the silver son of Fair Mix was expected to make a mockery of his Arkle rivals but gave his odds-on backers a fright when coming home under three lengths clear of Bailly Green.
Nonetheless Simonsig reportedly scoped dirty after the race, so there is every reason to expect a return to the kind of imperious form that saw him on a different planet to his fellow novices last term.
Given his success in the Neptune Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival over 2m4f two years back, the Ryanair Chase over the same trip looks the most obvious championship chasing option by which he can avoid Sprintre Sacre.
Cue Card – the horse to get closest to the reigning Champion Chaser over fences – will most likely stand in his way, as could Flemenstar and David Pipe’s Dynaste, but they are at least far more mortal targets than his own 10-times-unbeaten chasing stablemate.