All systems go for Shishkin and Newbury this weekend

Shishkin will bid to tee up a shot at the Cheltenham Gold Cup when he headlines a maximum field of five for Saturday’s Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury.

Nicky Henderson’s dual Cheltenham Festival hero was in the process of running a huge race in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and was still to be headed when stumbling after the second-last and unseating Nico de Boinville.

The 10-year-old returned from that race with a sore splint, but the master of Seven Barrows reports his charge to be firing on all cylinders ahead of his scheduled outing in the weekend’s Grade Two contest.

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“He’s very much on course for Saturday, I’m very happy with him,” said Henderson.

“Considering everything, Kempton was his first run of the year and it was going to be a very good run. It might have been a winning one for all we know.

“Either way it was a great comeback run, he’ll have tightened up a bit for that, he’s ready for this weekend and away we go, I hope.”

Protektorat went down on his shield at Lingfield
Protektorat went down on his shield at Lingfield (Adam Davy/PA)

Dan Skelton has entered Protektorat on the back of his fine run in defeat behind L’Homme Presse in Lingfield’s Fleur De Lys Chase, while Paul Nicholls has given Hitman the option of providing Ditcheat with a record-extending 11th win.

Kim Bailey’s Does He Know and Anthony Honeyball’s veterans’ chase series champion Sam Brown are the others in the mix after Monday’s entries.

In the other Grade Two on the card, the Betfair Exchange Game Spirit Chase, Venetia Williams’ Funambule Sivola will attempt to leave some recent disappointments behind him in search of a hat-trick in the race.

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Funambule Sivola excels at Newbury
Funambule Sivola excels at Newbury (Tim Goode/PA)

The winner in both 2022 and 2023, he will arrive at the Berkshire track with questions to answer. However, similar comments applied last season before he bounced back to form with an impressive three-and-a-half-length success.

Harry Fry has kept Boothill’s powder dry in recent weeks in favour of a crack at this, with Alan King’s Edwardstone arguably the biggest name in the line-up, dropping back in trip after a below-par display in Kempton’s Silviniaco Conti Chase.

Editeur Du Gite (Gary Moore), track-and-trip winner Amarillo Sky (Joe Tizzard) and the Skelton-trained Calico complete the list of six possibles.

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