Tributes have been paid to the former Nicky Henderson-trained and much-loved Simonsig after the gelding sustained a fatal injury at Cheltenham on Sunday (13 November). However, there is one horse that will be pinning for his best mate more than anyone.
Triolo D’Alene, another charge of the Lambourn trainer, developed a unique affinity and friendship with the 10-year-old grey known as ‘Simon’.
For the past five years they have summered together at Hillswood Stud in Wiltshire and even shared a barn while in training at Nicky’s Seven Barrows yard.
“They were best pals and always together — they ate and drank together and always looked out for each other,” said Tracy Vigors who runs Hillswood Stud with her husband Charlie and looked after the pair during their holidays.
“We first noticed it five years ago when Nicky sent us 10 racehorses for the summer; there were eight bays, a grey [Simonsig] and a chestnut [Triolo D’Alene].
“In this big field, the bays would stick together and then Simon and Triolo would just stay as a pair on their own and follow each other around — it was unbelievable really,” she told H&H.
“When Simonsig returned to Nicky after this summer he was 100%, his legs looked fantastic and he was a bigger and stronger horse — his accident was so unlucky.
“His owner Ronnie Bartlett would visit him during his holidays and always stood by Simonsig through his problems with injury. You couldn’t help but favour him — he was a very special horse,” added Tracy.
“He wasn’t an extrovert and would never demand attention, he was his own person but a gentleman with it.”
Nicky said the 2013 Hennessy victor, Triolo D’Alene, would have expected to see his “great friend” coming off the lorry on Sunday evening after Cheltenham — but it was not to be. The trainer described their relationship as “quite something”.
Simonsig’s highlights including winning the Grade One Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase at Cheltenham in 2013 under his regular jockey Barry Geraghty and the Betfred Novices’ Chase at Ascot in 2012. He also picked up well-respected races at both Kempton and Aintree.
The Sunday of Cheltenham’s The Open meeting turned out to be a day filled with emotion for Nicky Henderson. Just moments before Simonsig’s tragic accident, the trainer had officially retired his stable star Sprinter Sacre — holding back the tears while the talented chaser paraded at the racecourse.