Shishkin came through a workout on Tuesday which enabled Nicky Henderson to continue aiming towards the Betfair Ascot Chase on February 18, live on Sky Sports Racing.
So brilliant at his best over two miles, the nine-year-old will be racing over the longest trip he has encountered since his point-to-point days.
Since pulling up in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March, he returned to action when only third behind Edwardstone in the Tingle Creek.
Henderson stated he was keen to step him up in trip and that was due to be in the Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton – but Shishkin “flipped his palate” causing him to have a minor procedure, with Ascot then his next option.
“Shishkin worked this morning. We were all very happy with him and he is on schedule for the Betfair Ascot Chase,” said Henderson. “The step up in trip is not even a question mark for me, it is an absolute necessity, and consequently we did not even enter him for the Champion Chase.
“You would like to think that this could take you on to the Ryanair Chase, although we also put him in the Gold Cup as we have come to the firm conclusion that he is a stayer, but we will see.”
Taking him on will be last year’s winner, Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies, last seen winning in slightly fortunate circumstances at Thurles.
“Fakir D’oudairies is an intended runner in the Betfair Ascot Chase,” said O’Brien. “We were very pleased with how his prep went in Thurles. It was a very hot race and should hopefully set him up for another successful spring campaign.
“He has been around for a while and has achieved a lot already, but he is not an old horse by any means and I see no reason why he can’t have another good end to this season at least.”
A total of 13 have been entered for the Grade One, including Paul Nicholls’ improving Pic D’Orhy and stablemate Hitman.
Fanion D’Estruval, last year’s second Two For Gold, Paint The Dream and First Flow are all in the mix.
Source : Sky Sports