Song For Someone to miss Cheltenham as personal reasons dictate decision
Song For Someone will miss the Unibet Champion Hurdle and instead be aimed at the Aintree Hurdle, trainer Tom Symonds announced on Saturday.
The decision comes under sad circumstances, with the six-year-old's owner Sir Peter Gibbings nearing the end of his life, and connections think the Cheltenham Festival could be one step too far at this stage in Song For Someone's career, with the Aintree Hurdle a more suitable potential target.
Symonds, who will now not have any runners at Cheltenham next week, said: "Time is very much not on Sir Peter's side and we have to respect his decision as I don't think there are many more [runs] he'll make in his life. The horse is fine and I'll imagine we'll look at Aintree but we'll see.
"We think this is coming at the wrong time for the family and we need to respect their privacy. I wouldn't force this and they've alluded to the fact the horse has been thrilling already and doesn't owe them anything. The plan is now Aintree."
Sir Peter owns the horse with his wife, Lady Gibbings, and Symonds added: "From the first day he ran for us at Ludlow Sir Peter picked him out as one of the best horses. Song For Someone didn't even win that day and he knew then – it was quite some shout. He knows his horses well but he's never one to overface them."
Song For Someone has already provided connections with some great memories this season, with wins in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot and the International at Cheltenham, before finishing second to Goshen when attempting to defend his Kingwell Hurdle crown last month.
"Since Wincanton I've been thrilled with how he has been at home, which is lovely to see," Symonds said. "If he can go to Aintree and do his thing then that's brilliant, it's a step up again as he's never run in Grade 1 company so it remains to be seen whether he's good enough. Hopefully he is."
Roksana confirmed for Mares' Hurdle
Dan Skelton confirmed Roksana's Cheltenham Festival target would be the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle, for which she was clipped into a general 11-4 (from 3-1).
The nine-year-old won the race in 2019, benefiting from the final-hurdle fall of Benie Des Dieux, and the Sarah Faulks-owned mare has impressed with two wins this season.
"I’ve always said the plan was to run in the Mares’ Hurdle, so that’s always been our first aim with her," Skelton said.
"When Thyme Hill wasn’t going for the Stayers’ we confirmed her for that race so we could give ourselves an extra bit of time to make sure it was still the right decision and still what the owners wanted, which it is."
The Willie Mullins-trained Concertista remains at the head of the betting for the Mares' Hurdle as the general 4-5 favourite.
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