Simonsig could possibly have a run in the Racing Plus Pendil Novices' Chase at Kempton on February 23 before his date at next month's Cheltenham Festival.
The Nicky Henderson-trained grey is odds-on favourite for the Arkle Trophy, but was forced to miss his intended prep run in the Betfair Super Saturday Chase at Newbury this weekend after producing a slightly below-par trachea wash.
"It's a pity. I wanted to run him, but I couldn't and he needs a quiet week now," said Henderson, speaking from Kempton. "The ideal race is to come back here for the Pendil and I wouldn't mind going two and a half, but his owner is away and he said if you don't need to run him (before the Arkle), I'd rather you didn't."
Henderson might have been forced to withdraw his trump card for the Newbury race better known as the Game Spirit, but he still has two hands left to play with French Opera and Tanks For That.
French Opera won the race in 2011 and then finished second to his stablemate Sprinter Sacre, who has proved unbeatable ever since.
He was ineffective when stepped up in trip for his only start this term in the rescheduled Peterborough Chase at Kempton, while Tanks For That, second to another Henderson inmate Bellvano in the Grand Annual at the last Festival, had to be pulled up on his only outing at Ascot.
The handler said: "I was going to run them both anyway. French Opera was second last year and these horses need runs. Tanks For That has had nowhere to go as he must have fast ground, which we haven't had since October.
"He won't like the ground at Newbury, but if he is going to be a Grand Annual horse again, he needs to have a run. He could have won the Grand Annual last year, if it wasn't for Paul Carberry appearing on Bellvano."
Suddenly in major contention to land a nice prize is the Philip Hobbs-trained Wishfull Thinking. After a horrible fall in last season's Queen Mother Champion Chase, the 10-year-old ran well behind Finian's Rainbow and made a triumphant return to Cheltenham by taking a conditions chase in November.
Wishfull Thinking then struggled in the Desert Orchid at Kempton over Christmas, and Hobbs said: "Ideally he would like better ground, but this looked a better option for him than running in the Victor Chandler at Ascot. It looks an open race."
31 October 2014Lady proves a champ
Dettori works Breeders' Cup magic
Day to remember for Ellison
Johnson remains under observation
Conti chasing second Charlie Hall
Terror scares Newmarket rivals
Filleule faces Champion test
Terror scares off Newmarket rivals
Sgt far from Reckless at Uttoxeter
Little King wears Down Royal crown
Nicholls goes on Charm offensive
Fishers angling for Wetherby prize
Lavelle star Bec in business
Weld out to break new ground
Osborne ready to 'roll the dice'
Dank bids to sign off on a high
Turf glory in sight for Telescope
Red Ed upbeat about Cadeaux
Aktabantay out of Breeders' Cup
Tearless secures Good Friday ticket
Overnight stay for Johnson
Crawford banks on Izzini progress
Toast could make Spencer think
Road charts route to Royal riches
Grece excels at Saint-Cloud
Hawk given Greatwood option
Hannon: Early speed key for Osaila
30 October 2014Tearless takes Lingfield honours
Johnson taken to hospital
Royal summons for Apache
Bowe takes aim at WKD bullseye
Hootenanny 'smoking' for BC mission
Avenue roads lead to Newmarket
Shu to be kept busy
Scu sweet on Sensation Ascot raid
Murtagh succumbs to Cup charms
Dandino to stay in Australia
Glance denied Mackinnon defence
Bailey ace rules Supreme at Taunton
O'Brien hit by Magician blow
Diablo in big-race picture
Buckley raises Toast to Osborne
Pastille seeking four-timer
Conti all set for Charlie Hall
Barnes out to storm Saint-Cloud
Williams issues Buywise warning
Lynam reveals Slade stalls fears
29 October 2014Lame Magician out of Breeders' Cup
Diablo in big-race picture
Mullins enters strong Hennessy team
Damaged hock behind Estid reverse
Eckhart team rocked by injury blow
Hunt Ball makes Power play
Morgiana a T bone of contention
Kirby ponders Buttons French raid
Glance camp turn to Williams
Wohler trusts 'professional' Moore
Red alert to Cup challenge
Head targets more Mile glory
Mile hope Toronado in 'great form'
Telescope camp banking on Moore
Twiston-Davies link excites Moore
Flying third to Bob on hurdling bow
Harden to test top staying waters
Godolphin take share in Belardo
Mullins has big guns at Down Royal
Annacotty set for Kempton return
Powell and Bradley cleared
28 October 2014Fingal camp on weather watch
More injury woe for Popham
Dickin unveils Thomas gameplan
Power stalls in Flemington spin
Toast drawn nine in BC Classic
My Ambivalent passed fit by vets
Harry out to bring House down
Three and easy for ton-up Hanagan
Wood carves out Galway verdict
More Of That in Wetherby frame
Big guns confirmed for Charlie Hall
Byron pencilled in for Far East