Shishkin is among five entries for the £100,000 Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase – but he is by no means a certain runner.
Nicky Henderson had hoped to start off his season in the Tingle Creek at Sandown earlier this month, but felt last season’s Arkle winner was slightly off colour and he subsequently returned a dirty scope.
Shishkin returned to fast work last week and Henderson felt he needed one more strong gallop before he could give him the green light for Kempton.
That happened on Tuesday morning and while all went to plan, the seven-year-old is to have a schooling session and a further gallop before his trainer commits to a run in Monday’s Grade Two feature.
Henderson told Unibet: “Shishkin worked on the all-weather this morning and everything went according to plan, so after discussing it with Nico (de Boinville) and owner Joe Donnelly, we have decided that it makes perfect sense to enter him in the Desert Orchid Chase – but at this stage it is only provisional and he’s by no means certain to run there.
“Everything has gone well with him and he appears in good form at home, but he’ll school on Thursday and have another spin on Saturday by which time we will have a much clearer idea as to whether we run on Monday or wait a few more weeks for the Clarence House at Ascot. The good thing is we aren’t short of options and still have plenty of time and the Clarence House is always a nice race to win.
“Many will say it’s ‘Henderson sitting on the fence again’ and I’m afraid they are right. The horse’s health, fitness and wellbeing is my only priority.
“Thankfully his trachea washes have all been clean and hopefully we are turning a corner, but he won’t run unless I am 100 per cent happy with him.
“He’s never the most flashy in his work but I must admit he did put in a good piece this morning, which is obviously a very positive sign.
“I wish I could offer a more definitive answer as to whether he goes to Kempton but at this stage I simply cannot rule it in or out.”
The Paul Nicholls-trained Tingle Creek winner Greaneteen, Venetia Williams’ Funambule Sivola, Sam Thomas’ Before Midnight and Jonjo O’Neill’s Sky Pirate are Shishkin’s potential rivals.
Edwardstone is the star name among five entries for the other Grade Two on Monday’s card – the Ladbrokes Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase.
Brought down on his debut over fences at Warwick, Alan King’s charge returned to the same venue to open his chasing account before claiming Grade One honours in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown.
Michael Scudamore could saddle Do Your Job, who fell in the Henry VIII.
Raya Time (Tom George), Sebastopol (Tom Lacey) and Solo (Nicholls) are the other hopefuls.