- Cheltenham Festival, Day One
Super Simonsig powers to Arkle win
Simonsig struck for favourite backers with victory in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy.
The grey came into the race with only two outings over fences to his name, but the lack of experience did not hamper him as he powered to victory despite making a couple of mistakes and pulling too hard.
The contest was billed as a battle between the silky Simonsig and the warrior Overturn, but it did not pan out as scripted as Overturn folded tamely and it was left to Baily Green to chase home the winner.
It was not as smooth as Simonsig's win in the Neptune Investment Novices' Hurdle 12 months ago, but it at least shows he has more than one string to his bow as he knuckled down after the last the fend off Baily Green.
Overturn set out to make all the running and jumped well for the most part. He fended off the challenge of Arvika Ligeonniere a long way from home, but jockey Jason Maguire was pushing and shoving long before a shuddering mistake three from home effectively ended his challenge.
At that point he was challenged by Simonsig, who had survived a stopping mistake himself down the back straight. Simonsig had travelled superbly, arguably too well for jockey Barry Geraghty who was at pains to anchor his mount.
If the exertions of earlier in the race were to tell, it would have been turning in and hitting the hill. Simonsig was tracked into the straight by Baily Green and the Irish raider threw down a challenge after the last.
The exuberant brilliance of Simonsig was not in evidence after the last as Geraghty pulled out the whip and asked his mount to run to the line. Baily Green briefly threatened to cause a shock, but the 8/15 favourite stuck his neck out and ran all the way to the line.
Henderson, who was winning the race for a fifth time, said: "I think he was just too fresh. He's done very well to win running with the choke out all the way.
"He's not short of pace but he's got to learn to drop it a bit. He wasn't really concentrating on what was going on. He's only had three runs this year and there's another race in him. He's a two-miler."