Shishkin leaves roller coaster season firmly behind him with gusty display in Denman Chase

By Peter Moore at Newbury Saturday 10th February 2024

Betfred Super Saturday day at Newbury on Saturday always had the makings of being a cracking day’s racing with the likes of star turns Shishkin, Edwardstone and a high class field named in the richest race of the day The Betfair Hurdle Race on show, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

The Betfair Denman Chase over 2m 7 and a half furlongs saw the reappearance of Shishkin.

After the horse had refused to race at Ascot in November and unseating Nico De Boinville when looking a likely winner two out in the King George V1 Chase, much was expected for Shishkin today.

The brilliant ten year old looked a picture in the paddock and looked ready to run well. The large crowd at Newbury weren’t disappointed with the Nicky Henderson trained gelding putting on an striking display to beat Hitman by four and a half lengths.

Henderson was a relieved man after the race.  “I think that’s probably relief,” the trainer said. “It’s not always been his fault, although I suppose you have to say Ascot was. The King George certainly wasn’t his fault and he had a good blow there, which Nico thought would do him a lot of good. He missed one, otherwise he jumped great and he needed it more than anything else.”

The target now is the forthcoming Cheltenham Gold Cup in a months’ time. “I think the Gold Cup has to be the objective,” Henderson said. “I don’t think three and a quarter miles will frighten him and hopefully we’ve got the starting bug out of his head. He was faultless there, better than at Kempton. We’re in control of him now, which is the great thing and he’s behaving our way, not his.

“We have to crack on and give the Gold Cup a go. Shishkin has a chance and I don’t see any point in not running. I went to Ireland last weekend and I’ve been impressed with Galopin Des Champs, but after that I think there’s an opening, and it’s the Gold Cup – you’ve got to give it a go.”

Henderson was successful later on by picking up his sixth Betfair Hurdle when Iberico Lord came through to beat L’Eau Du Sud by two and a quarter lengths with De Boinville on board.

However, the jumping honours of the day went to Edwardstone who produced a spectacular round of jumping to win The Betfair Exchange Game Spirit Chase a Grade 2 race run over 2m.

Jockey Tom Cannon gave the ten year old a super ride with the horse relishing the trip back in trip after being unsuited by the 2 and a half miles at Kempton.

Trainer Alan King who saddled Edwardstone to victory, had already been on the mark with Emitom earlier in the day.

The Barbury Castle trainer said after the win that his yard hasn’t been firing on all cylinders recently.

“I think this is the best a few of mine have been all season. I was away on holiday a few weeks ago and they hadn’t been running terribly well. I thought, ‘What the hell is wrong?’ I went back to the old routine of three times up the hill and we’ve drilled these horses the last few weeks and I think the results speak for themselves.

“I think we’ll be taking those horses on in the Champion Chase and we certainly won’t be going for the Ryanair. I’ve huge respect for Jonbon, who has beaten us twice this term, and El Fabiolo looked awfully good at Leopardstown last week, but I hope we’re in the mix now.”