14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Kempton an option for SimonsigHeadlines

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."

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