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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Henderson: Not so simple for SimonHeadlines
Simonsig

Trainer Nicky Henderson has no idea how Simonsig will handle what promises to be ultra-testing conditions on his chasing debut at Ascot on Friday.

The six-year-old was a brilliant winner of the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at last season's Cheltenham Festival and was similarly impressive on his final start of the campaign at Aintree.

He is already a best-priced 3-1 favourite for the Arkle Trophy back at Cheltenham in March and faces four rivals on his fencing introduction in the Grade Two Betfred Novices' Chase.

"In fairness, we don't really know how he is going to handle heavy ground," said Henderson.

"I'm told he handled soft ground when he won his point-to-point in Ireland, but he's never run on anything worse than good to soft since he joined us.

"He did travel like a very good horse when he was second to Fingal Bay over hurdles at Sandown last year and it was pretty soft that day, so we just have to hope for the best.

"It's going to be horrible ground, I'd imagine, but if he hates it he's just going to have to put up with it as I have to get him out. He had a little niggling problem about a month ago, but he has done mountains of work and schooling since then and everything has gone well."

Simonsig faces the 140-rated Act Of Kalanisi, Ashbourne Folly, Dare Me and Sulpius.

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