Henderson mulling redemption options for Shishkin

Next week’s Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle could come under consideration for Shishkin after Nicky Henderson’s star chaser refused to start at Ascot on Saturday.

Having rounded off a rollercoaster season with a first victory over an extended three miles at Aintree in the spring, the nine-year-old was odds-on to make a successful reappearance in the Grade Two 1965 Chase in Berkshire, which was due to be his prep run for the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day.

However, it became clear not long after he arrived at the start that Shishkin was not too keen to jump off with the other runners and when the tape went up, he turned his head and planted himself in the hands of Nico de Boinville.

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Henderson reported his charge to be none the worse on Sunday morning, but is now in a quandary as to what to do next.

“He’s fine, he’s actually been out for a little day out and a hack canter this morning,” said the Seven Barrows handler.

“We’ve got to think what we’re going to do, I haven’t got that far yet.

“There’s very little he can do, to be honest with you. I don’t know, perhaps they’ll start the King George in starting stalls!”

Nicky Henderson and Shishkin
Nicky Henderson and Shishkin (David Davies/PA)

Shishkin was wearing cheek pieces for the first time in public on Saturday and while Henderson is loathe to blame the headgear for his antics, they may be dispensed with on his next start.

He added: “I don’t think they made any difference, to be honest with you. I’m not saying they’ll stay on, because it’s probably sensible to do something.

“I don’t think they had anything to do with it, as he’s had them on at home and Nico has schooled him in them and he was great.

“I’m inclined to take them off, just to do something different, but they were nothing to do with it.

“I just think it was mainly because of where the start was at Ascot, and therefore, unsurprisingly, the King George start is a very bad one, too.”

The next conditions race open to Shishkin is the Grade Two Peterborough Chase, but Henderson feels the December 10 showpiece is “too close” to Kempton, while the two-and-a-half-mile distance at Huntingdon is considered “almost certainly too short round there”.

And with the brilliant Constitution Hill being readied to travel from Lambourn to Newcastle to make his comeback in Saturday’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle, Henderson admits the thought of putting Shishkin in the horsebox alongside him has crossed his mind.

When asked whether the Rehearsal Chase could be an option, the trainer said: “That is under consideration, as you can imagine. We’re going there anyway.

“We’ll just have to see, we’re not thinking about it at the moment. We’ve just got to face the issue and see, as there’s no point going up there (Newcastle) if he’s going to repeat it.”

The Venetia Williams-trained L’Homme Presse carried 12 stone to victory in last year’s Rehearsal Chase before unseating at the final fence in the King George.

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