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Simonsig saunters home on fencing bow

ESPN staff
December 21, 2012 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »
Simonsig made a fabulous transition to the larger obstacles © PA Photos
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Simonsig made his first start over fences a winning one with an effortless success in a dramatic renewal of the Noel Novices' Chase.

The winner of last season's Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at the Festival, Simonsig saw his main rivals Act Of Kalanisi and Dare Me fall early in the back straight.

With just one rival left from seven fences from home, Barry Geraghty allowed Simonsig to stride on from Sulpuis.

Simonsig threw in some impressive leaps, measuring his fences with precision, and the grey cruised home to take the Grade Two prize in effortless fashion.

"He was good," winning trainer Nicky Henderson said. "We know 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."

Puffin Billy made it a perfect four out of four with a facile success in the Kennel Gate Novices' Hurdle.

Trainer Oliver Sherwood has made no secret of the regard he holds Puffin Billy in, describing him as the best he has trained since Large Action, and he took the Grade Two prize like a class act.

Held up at the back of the field by Barry Geraghty, Puffin Billy travelled with exuberance - as he had in his previous races. He sauntered alongside long-time leader Up To Something at the second from home and was still on the bridle approaching the last.

Puffin Billy took the final hurdle in his stride and he sauntered clear on the run in despite Geraghty sitting motionless in the saddle.

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