TRAINER Nicky Henderson’s exasperating season took another turn for the worse after he confirmed that his stable stars Sprinter Sacre and Simonsig will both miss their intended comeback races.
While the withdrawal of Sprinter Sacre from the 888sport Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday week appears to be precautionary, Simonsig’s absence from the following day’s Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon suggests the grey will not be ready for the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
The 2012-13 champion trainer was also quick to allay fears about the form of his stable, saying that he was simply not prepared to take any chances with Sprinter Sacre, who has not raced since being pulled up at Kempton last December with a fibrillating heart.
Asked for an update on the runaway winner of the 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chase, Henderson said: “With everything that is going on and the ground as much as anything, he’s not quite really there, so he won’t go Tingle Creeking. He will be strutting away at home and he’s fine, but he’s not quite ready.
“We went to Newmarket (to see Celia Marr, equine specialist) and came back with a clean bill of health from there and we are working away, but we are not quite ready. The one good thing was he had a four-day full MOT at Newmarket and everything is tickety-boo.”
As for Simonsig, who has not raced since winning the 2013 Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham, Henderson said: “He’s had a couple of blips.
“It would be a tall order for Simonsig to go to the King George, wouldn’t it? But I can’t say ‘no he won’t’. Too many people are saying there is something wrong with the horses. They are nearly there but we can’t go off half-cocked.
“If you don’t notice the difference between a horse that is 95 per cent and 101 per cent then you shouldn’t be doing it.”
Sue Smith had a welcome winner when Rattlin was a runaway winner at Uttoxeter under young conditional Callum Bewley.
It has been a bittersweet week for the teenage jockey – his mentor Ryan Mania quit the saddle and Bewley was among the riders to receive a 10-day ban at Sedgefield after failing to pull up when a course official waved a flag erroneously.
The jockeys concerned have decided not to appeal.