Nick Alexander is keeping his fingers crossed that Shishkin lines up at Newcastle on Saturday to give him the best possible chance of bagging a second victory in the BetMGM Rehearsal Chase with Elvis Mail.
The Kinneston handler saddled stable stalwart Lake View Lad to land the prestigious handicap five years ago and has high hopes for his latest candidate, who made a successful start to his campaign when notching a fifth Kelso win in last month’s Edinburgh Gin Chase.
What complicates matters slightly in terms of this weekend’s race is the presence of Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin, who could make a swift reappearance under the welter burden of 12 stone after refusing to race in last Saturday’s 1965 Chase at Ascot.
If Shishkin does take his chance, Elvis Mail will carry just 10st 1lb, but if Henderson decides against sending his multiple Grade One winner to the North East, the weights will rise considerably, and it is not inconceivable that Elvis Mail himself could yet end up carrying top-weight.
“I’d love him to be running with 10st 1lb on his back. He’s well and ready to run again and he’d certainly be running if that was the case,” Alexander explained.
“If the top-weight doesn’t run and the next two (Ga Law and Datsalrightgino) were to run at Newbury and he was to end up with top-weight, then I wouldn’t be certain.
“He’ll probably run anyway. He won very nicely at Kelso, we were delighted with him and he’s been great since, so fingers crossed he’s still great on Saturday.”
Elvis Mail has won eight races in his career so far, with his five Kelso triumphs supplemented by a trio of wins at Ayr.
Alexander feels the nature of Gosforth Park should suit his charge just fine, adding: “He likes a galloping track and has run well at Doncaster.
“He doesn’t want holding ground, so he could do with them getting a snow shower or something, just to keep it on the wetter side. He likes decent ground as well, so he should be fine.
“I’m very much looking forward to running him.”