Shishkin poised to begin Champion Chase build up

Nicky Henderson is planning to give Shishkin a gallop on Saturday, for what will be his first serious piece of work since his epic Ascot victory over Energumene.

The eight-year-old clashed with Willie Mullins’ star in the Clarence House Chase last month, with the pair duelling up the Ascot straight before Shishkin just edged in front in the shadow of the post.

Shishkin and Energumene are set to renew rivalry in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and Henderson reports his charge to have recovered well from a race that will live long in the memory.

He told Tattersalls Cheltenham: “It was a tough race, and you would expect them to have a little after effect, but he was bright and breezy straight away. He looked well, ate up and has been very straightforward.

“He’s had a couple of quiet weeks after the race and is now back in pre-Cheltenham build up. He did a little bit of work yesterday (Wednesday) and will have his first serious gallop since Ascot on Saturday. He will then do three bits of work in between and a couple of schools.”

Unbeaten in seven chase starts, last year’s Arkle victor is favourite to confirm the Ascot form next month in the two-mile Cheltenham highlight.

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While he remains at the minimum trip for now, Henderson would not rule out a future step up in distance.

He added: “I’m not in a rush to go two and a half miles, but I have no doubt that he would get it if we ever had to ask him. If that’s what he says at the end of the day, that he needs to go another half a mile, then we will move him up.”

A graduate of the 2018 Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale, Shishkin was purchased by David Minton and Anthony Bromley’s Highflyer Bloodstock for owner Joe Donnelly for £170,000 from Virginia Considine.

Henderson said: “He was at the Tattersalls Point-to-Point Sale and we were looking for a horse for Joe. You don’t need to look at a horse for long, you either like it or you don’t like it.

“When you see something that you really like you know straight away, unless it turns out to have faults you can’t forgive. He was a grand individual – he’d won his point-to-point and was impressive doing that.

“I said to Minty straight away, that’s the one we want.”

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