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."
21 November 2014McCoy: Landmark swayed judgment
Jacob warms up with brace
Hill peaking for Troytown return
Billy back on winning track
Walsh back for Ferof ride
New ready for Haydock Rush
Cheltenham is Big aim
Mullins eager for Faugheen run
Geraghty snapped up for Seuil
Cue primed for Betfair defence
Volnay aiming for quick repeat
Argocat camp play it cool
Leading Light retired
Frankel filly breaks Irish record
Linton loses Listed place
Doubles for Pipe and Scudamore
Nasty spill for Insole
McCoy targets midweek return
Farm comes Home to roost at Thurles
Flemenstar future dictated by scan
Cue lined up for Haydock return
20 November 2014McNamara joy at turning pro
Volnay seeking Mersey paradise
Sloane Avenue books Dubai date
Spencer reveals Qatar riding snub
Doyle ready for Godolphin challenge
Good news at Huntingdon
BHA hear Linton case
Avenue shows winning way
Grugy diagnosed with hip issue
Meade plots Monksland comeback
Ptit secures swift double
Shanes shines in hurdles win
Mullins' stars set for weekend runs
Haydock aim for Aurore
Medermit in Betfair contention
19 November 2014Shaneshill sparkles on hurdles bow
O'Grady keen on Becher run
High hopes for Zaidiyn
Cyclone makes Thurles return
Betfair launch National Jockey Day
Risk set for Haydock return
Murphy back at Navan for Troytown
Ground key to Aubusson Haydock bid
Knock A Hand in Troytown contention
Vautour given Navan entry
Place Hennessy bid excites King
That pleases in Newbury spin
Ascot aim for Master
Clouds primed for Hennessy bid
Challow option for Games
December aim for Berlais
Fenton facing Turf Club verdict
18 November 2014Nephew in Hennessy mix
Three runners for Sandra Hughes
Kempton first for Cladocera
Hobbs seeking Hennessy gold
Easy possible for quick return
Modest Moore strives for perfection
Driving ban for Queally
Meade bemused by Wood demise
Warrior no soft touch in Hennessy
Heron angling for Kempton honours
Able Deputy delivers at Plumpton
Mullins heavyweights in at Ascot
One and only on Mersey beat
Cue takes aim at Haydock double
Re set for second hurdles run