Barry Geraghty holds on tight as Simonsig pings over another fencePICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Errors can't stop Simonsig in Arkle
Report: Cheltenham, Tuesday
Racing Post Arkle (Grade 1), 2m, 5yo+
SIMONSIG gave Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty back-to-back wins in the Racing Post Arkle but he was made to fight harder than his legions of fans would have hoped for.
Sent off the 8-15 favourite, Simonsig was pushed all the way up the famous Cheltenham hill by 33-1 chance Baily Green to come home two and a quarter lengths clear with another outside, His Excellency, well back in third.
The longed-for dual between Simonsig and Overturn never materialised after that one clouted three out, a mistake which ended the wonderfully versatile horse's chances there and then.
Before that connections and supporters of Simonsig had their own heart-in-mouth moment when the favourite made a mistake at the last fence on the far side.
Simonsig had appeared to be unsuited by the steady pace they went in the early stages and brushed the top of a couple of fences, although he was much happier when Geraghty let him go.
Although he did not match the breathtaking display of stablemate Sprinter Sacre in winning this race last year, he still got the job done to give the winningmost trainer in Cheltenham Festival history a 47th winner at what could be the start of another good week for him.
Henderson, who was winning this race for a record-equalling 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."
Geraghty said: "He missed one down the back but was good at the second-last and a bit close again at the last. Look, he's won an Arkle and it was a very good performance."
Winning owner Ronnie Barlett added: "It's just a dream come true. When you buy your own horse you don't know if it's going to deliver but he's gone from strength to strength. He showed he can dig in as well."
Paddy Power reacted to the result by giving Simonsig quotes of 6-1 for next season's King George and 12-1 for the Gold Cup.
Mouse Morris, trainer of Baily Green said: "He was beaten by a better horse on the day. He's a proper horse though and his jumping kept him in it.
"I would think we'll look at Punchestown or Fairyhouse for him but it's early days and he's done himself credit today."
Donald McCain had voiced his concerns about underfoot conditions for Overturn on the eve of the race and he said after: "It was the ground. He's a Flat horse and it's tacky and holding out there which is no good for him. After the first race you start to get a little bit hopeful but the ground was no good and Jason [Maguire] said he never gave him the same feel."