Barry Geraghty leads tributes to ‘high class’ Simonsig

Simonsig: classy in points, over hurdles and over fences

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker ( Geraghty leads tributes
to 'high class' Simonsig By Cathal Gahan 8:00PM 14 NOV 2016

BARRY GERAGHTY on Monday paid a glowing tribute to Simonsig, who was fatally injured in a fall at Cheltenham on Sunday, describing Ronnie Bartlett's ten-year-old grey as "a really high-class horse."

While there was a feeling of relief mixed with sadness from trainer Nicky Henderson and his team about the retirement of Sprinter Sacre, the void created by the death of dual Cheltenham Festival winner Simonsig left those who knew him best reflecting on what could have been.

"He was high class, a really high-class horse," Geraghty said. "It's a big pity for Ronnie, such a bitter blow. You know it was a hard few years anyway with Simonsig on the sidelines, but then to get him back with a clear run and for that to happen is so sad.

"Nicky and I have been fortunate to have had some fantastic horses over the years, but Simonsig was Ronnie's baby, his real true superstar.

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"Sprinter went on to achieve almost everything he should have achieved, whereas with Simon you could only say the opposite. He never got a chance to show his real ability.

"When he won the Arkle he scoped so badly afterwards that a normal horse would have pulled up. To win the Arkle and to be that unwell was a massive performance.

"Nicky was afraid to work him and Sprinter against each other, and that's a measure of how good he was. The year he won the Arkle and Sprinter won the Champion Chase, the biggest concern for me was how we were going to split them."

'Very talented horse'

Point-to-point trainer Ian Ferguson nurtured Simonsig in the early part of his career from his base in Ballymena, County Antrim, winning two point-to-points and the Racing Post Champion Point-to-Point Bumper.

"Simon Tindall bred him and sent him to me and he was always a very talented horse," Ferguson said.

"In fact the first day he ran in a point-to-point, I couldn't believe Chris [Cully] had to give him a smack on the backside to win his race. . I think he was a bit starstruck by the whole occasion. The second day he fell and next time out I got Derek O'Connor to ride him and he won like I thought he could.

"Derek got off him and took a minute or two to study things and said 'I think that's one of the nicest horses I've ever ridden'. That will tell you how good he was and he went on to win the Champion Point-to-Point Bumper easily with Chris on board.

"There's no doubt he was the best I've ever trained. Normally I handle stayers, but he had so much speed, and because he was a grey, he had the flash factor about him and the older he got the whiter he got. I've been looking for another one like him since."

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