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."
24 October 2014Ballyalton out for the season
McCoy makes Chepstow return
Hutchinson sits out weekend action
Botti seeking Astrelle celebration
Balding sweet on Park chance
Walker hoping for Glorious victory
Times out to make Newbury headlines
Cheltenham honour leading figures
Moore keen on Adelaide chance
Stevens back for Breeders'
Johnson Houghton fined
Duke lords it at Carlisle
Southwell first for O'Brien
Fenton fined over steroids
Buywise on the money at Ludlow
Lockinge the big plan for Toormore
Stone ruled out of Old Roan
Wetherby likely for First run
Elm tops Trophy octet
23 October 2014Fenton guilty of drugs possession
Williams hoping for Max power
Harty biding his time with Lane
Clonmel aim for Baily
Jezki possible for Morgiana bow
Harrington expects Naylor to shine
Gosden a Fan of Newmarket scorer
Northern aces face off in Cumbria
Murphy plagued by shoulder injury
Dynaste charts direct Haydock route
O'Brien outlines Breeders' plans
Wetherby-bound Taquin to duck Power
High hopes for Adelaide run
Gilgamboa waits on ground
Dandino misses Cup date
22 October 2014December date for Balding memorial
Deputy outgunned at Fontwell
Whisky chasing Power spoils
Burke maps out Odeliz targets
Present sights set on Power prize
New category for all-weather champs
Moviesta has sales date
National aim for O'Neill star
Cheltenham on Ginge agenda
Lewis eyeing Dubai success
Henderson handed Ascot role
Panther given Breeders' go-ahead
Plain sailing for perfect Storm
Big Easy sets sail for Open fixture
Hall monitored for Giant Bolster
Stomachion in November frame
Hughes revels in 'sweet' success
BHA moves to address small fields
Connell turns to Heskin
Integral to race on next year
21 October 2014Storm breezes to Exeter victory
Moore concedes title to Hughes
Meade maps out gameplan for stars
Pele poised to tackle Hennessy
O'Neill sure of Taquin redemption
Heron seeking Great prize
Court to go on Trial
Saviour blow for Skelton
Dan makes chase debut
Moore waits on Grugy decision
O'Neill outlines That choices
Conn possible for Auction bid
Power team weigh up options
Bangor cancel schooling card
No rushing back for Long Run
Dynaste leads Old Roan contenders
Grands Crus retired
Exciting Berlais heads to Chepstow
Force handed Hong Kong mission
Park favourite for Trophy hunt
Al Kazeem team eye Hong Kong trip
Commemorative bound for Breeders'
Slade eyeing victorious swansong