Impressive Arkle winner Shishkin is set to line up at Aintree’s Randox Grand National Festival next month.
The seven-year-old cantered home 12 lengths clear in the Grade One heat at Cheltenham and is due to be joined on Merseyside by fellow Nicky Henderson inmate Chantry House, who also grabbed top-level glory in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Festival.
Fusil Raffles was second in the Marsh for Henderson and he is also pencilled in for Aintree, while Epatante, who finished third in defence of her Champion Hurdle title, is set to clash again with her Cheltenham conqueror Honeysuckle at Punchestown.
“I’m hoping Shishkin, Chantry house and Fusil Raffles will all be going to Aintree – that is the plan,” the Seven Barrows trainer told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.
“Epatante was probably slightly disappointing. I think she ought to have finished second, but she wouldn’t have beaten Honeysuckle in a million years. We’re probably going to go to Punchestown and give it another go.”
Henderson’s dual assault on the Cheltenham Gold Cup yielded little joy, with Champ never jumping and pulled up before the seventh fence, while Santini made a blunder at that obstacle and was pulled up after the 12th.
Henderson handler felt Champ was suffering from a physical issue, with Santini ultimately unsuited by the application of a first-time visor.
He added: “Champ, almost certainly, we know where the problem is – it’s in his back and he’ll be returning to Ireland ASAP for a bone scan. He has had back surgery before in the past and it almost certainly wants re-examining, so that’s all been put in place.”
“Santini schooled very well in the visor, but I have to say, in the race, he just didn’t face it. Some horses don’t, (but) you can’t tell at home. He didn’t like it, he’d schooled well and we thought it would make a big difference.”