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."
1 October 2014Martin outlines Jack ground hopes
Raiding party heads Opera runners
Autumn aim for North
Shamkala sole Arc withdrawal
Force and Power top Abbaye list
Cadeaux team mull Caulfield date
Limato set for Redcar speed test
Cape set for Concorde test
Telescope sights set on Breeders'
Power primed to storm Abbaye
Creepy excels on chasing bow
Al Kazeem given Arc go-ahead
Buick makes Ivanhowe Arc link
Martin keen on Clonard
Cirrus heads Longchamp billing
Elite aim for Irving
Ribbons run hinges on Paris ground
Quick on course for Ces date
30 September 2014Power heads Abbaye market
No fitness worries for Lemaire
Beaux plans undecided
Foret-bound Byron enjoys workout
Perfect fencing start for Minstrel
Ted takes Roscommon honours
Rain fillip for Treve Arc challenge
Speed not an issue to River camp
Signal on course to Wow in Paris
Ivawood heads Millions field
Top fillies star in Chariot race
Point primed for Abbaye assignment
29 September 2014Logic ruled out for the season
Ansgar in Foret frame
Kalann team consider Champions bid
Peslier and Mosse hunt Arc mounts
O'Brien trio set for Longchamp
High hopes for Elliott team
Berry takes the rails route
River cruises to Beresford glory
Qualify swoops for O'Brien team
Minstrel ready for chasing bow
Tiggy Abbaye run not set in stone
Angel camp ponder Darley raid
Pineau ripe for new season
Mubtaghaa suited by joy of six
Fiesolana fired up for Foret
28 September 2014Keighley holds Court for Cheltenham
Mart makes Newland's day
Spin does the trick at Ripon
Angel heaven-sent for Tregoning
Tiggy takes Cheveley gold
Lodge proves a stroll in Park
Rosalie blossoms for hat-trick
Naylor seeking Paris prize
Integral on course for Chariot
Dettori anticipating 'vintage' Arc