Nicky Henderson reports Shishkin in fine shape since completing his preparation for the Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase by extending his unbeaten record over fences at Doncaster.
Shishkin remains an odds-on favourite to double his Cheltenham Festival tally next month, but does have a credible rival in Energumene – after an impressive win for Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old in the Patrick Ward & Company Solicitors Irish Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown.
Last weekend’s success in the Lightning Novices’ Chase took Shishkin’s career record to seven wins in seven completed starts under rules – and Henderson has confirmed his well-being following those latest exertions.
“Shishkin is in very good form,” said the Seven Barrows trainer.
“He has won at odds-on in his last three, but there is no such thing as a gimme.
“He’s done nothing since last weekend – he has had a quiet week and has come out of it fine.”
Henderson has also issued upbeat bulletins on three more stable stars – Epatante and Buveur D’Air, respectively bidding to retain and regain their Champion Hurdle titles next month, and his dual Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Altior.
The latter has run just once this season, when only second to Nube Negra at Kempton over Christmas, but is expected to be in action again before Cheltenham – in next week’s Game Spirit Chase at Newbury.
“The two Champion Hurdle horses are well, and they are doing their own thing,” he said.
“Altior is fine. He worked this morning and he schooled on Thursday – and I did put a film out (from the gallops on Twitter) to show that he actually exists.”