Simonsig strong Arkle favourite

  • Last Updated: December 21 2012, 16:39 GMT

Simonsig is no bigger than 5/2 for the Arkle after making a winning debut over fences at Ascot on Friday.

Simonsig was impressive on his debut over fences
Simonsig was impressive on his debut over fences

Nicky Henderson's charge was sent off at 2/9 and gave supporters few concerns, jumping superbly to beat Sulpius by close to 50 lengths.

Bob Buckler's modest handicap chaser was the only other finisher, making Simonsig's performance hard to assess, but the bookmakers were impressed.

Sky Bet went 9/4 from 3/1 and the firm's Michael Shinners remarked: "He jumped really well and won as he pleased. Clearly he will have much sterner tests, but this was an excellent stepping stone."

William Hill also quote 9/4 and their spokesman Richard Thomas said: "We have been waiting all season to witness the chasing debut under Rules of Simonsig, and he didn't let anyone down.

"Last season it looked like he could have been a Champion Hurdle contender in 2013, but connections were keen to go straight over fences, and today you could appreciate why.

"Onwards and upwards now and he already looks the one to beat in the Racing Post Arkle."

Paddy Power were the most impressed, cutting Simonsig to 6/4, leaving Betfred and totesport as the only firms quoting 5/2 come late Friday afternoon.

The horse's trainer Nicky Henderson said: "He was good. We know that he will be an awful lot better when going a shade quicker, but Barry (Geraghty) did let him go and jump them.

"This was as good a novice hurdler as I've seen in a long time and we seriously thought about him being a Champion Hurdle horse, but we decided to send him chasing.

Geraghty added: "That was very much mission accomplished, he settled well and jumped nicely.

"He got the revs up at one or two but listened to me every time, he was foot-perfect at the last three.

"You couldn't ask for much better around a track like here. He's a two-miler not a three-miler.

"I wasn't bothered he was a little bit keen, that's what you want with a good horse, a horse with an appetite. He never did anything stupid.

"You couldn't ask for a novice to do much more than he did."

Also on the card, Puffin Billy extended his unbeaten record with a facile victory, again under Geraghty, and he's now a general 12/1 chance for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

"That was most impressive with Barry Geraghty barely moving a muscle on board Oliver Sherwood's exciting four-year-old," said Stan James spokesman Rory Jiwani.

"We cut Puffin Billy from 16/1 to 10/1 co-favourite for the Supreme along with Jezki and My Tent Or Yours. While he's barely been extended over hurdles, he clearly has a huge engine and he will be a danger to all at Cheltenham.

"Sherwood says he will also be entered for the Neptune and we've cut him from 16/1 to 12/1 for that race."