sport

Simenon back next season

Simenon will have the Ascot Gold Cup and Melbourne again on his agenda during 2014 after bringing this year's campaign to a close.

This time 12 months ago Simenon was turning in disappointing efforts over hurdles, but once trainer Willie Mullins freshened him up and returned him to the Flat, he was a revelation.

Fourth in the Chester Cup, the gelding finished a gallant Royal Ascot runner-up to Estimate in the Gold Cup and took the same place again behind Ahzeemah in the Lonsdale Cup at York.

Transferred to the southern hemisphere, Simenon was able to take Mullins and owner Nick Peacock to Australia, where he stayed on strongly for third in the Caulfield Cup before placing fourth in the Melbourne Cup itself.

His travelling days were not yet over, and he and Mullins' nephew Emmet were bound for the Far East, where he performed ordinarily in the Japan Cup but returned to form with a solid fifth behind top international horses Dominant, The Fugue, Dunaden and Red Cadeaux in last Sunday's Hong Kong Vase.

Peacock said: "The last report I had was that he was fine after the race and I imagine he'll be heading home now.

"I think we now know he's just not quick enough in those mile and a half races. It's a shame it wasn't a two-mile race as he'd probably be a superstar by now.

"What his future is, I don't know. The plan is the Ascot Gold Cup again, and whether he goes to Dubai before then, I'm not sure at the moment. Financially, of course it's tempting.

"Then the long-term plan is to go to Melbourne again. He travels well, and takes his races well, so he's a very easy horse to have. He's been brilliant for us."

Peacock will now switch his attentions to some of the other jumpers he has trained by Mullins in Ireland.

The promising Arctic Fire was a close third to The Tullow Tank in the Grade One Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse, and the owner said: "He was absolutely flyng at the finish that day. He was probably the Mullins third string in the race but I think he's an exciting prospect and hopefully he might run over Christmas."

Peacock went on: "Wicklow Brave has won his last three bumpers and is clearly pretty useful, and although Vicky De L'Oasis was only third in a mares' hurdle at Newbury the other day, she scoped very badly afterwards and there'll be another day for her."