Shishkin is all set to make his eagerly-awaited next appearance in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster on Saturday.
He will face four rivals in the Grade Two event, which his trainer Nicky Henderson won 12 months ago with Mister Fisher.
Last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner has been faultless in two outings over fences to date – but might not have it all his own way against Eldorado Allen, Cheddleton and Fast Buck who all have decent form to their names. Nico de Boinville takes the ride on Shishkin.
Henderson told Sky Sports Racing: “He’s a very straightforward horse and I’m hoping he’s straightforward enough to cope with what is probably going to be very messy ground. He’s has been in soft ground before. He jumped five fences the other day and was very good and Nico was happy.
“This seems the sensible place to be going. There are only two races you can run him in between now and the Arkle – the Kingmaker at Warwick is the alternative, but it’s the same day as we would like to be running Altior at Newbury, so I don’t really want them to be in two different places at the same time.
“Within reason I think this is the right place to be. Doncaster is a good novice chase course. The fences have got to be jumped and this is always a good race.
“Shishkin is a genuine two-miler, so this should be a good place to be, even if it’s a bit wet.”
Handicap snip Cap Du Nord is among a field of 13 for the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.
Trained by Christian Williams, the eight-year-old won at Newbury earlier this season before chasing home potential Gold Cup runner Royale Pagaille at Kempton over Christmas. Given the exploits of that one last weekend Cap Du Nord is a hot favourite for the feature handicap.
Colin Tizzard’s Mister Malarky is at the head of the weights, after Brian Ellison did not declare Definitly Red.
Alan King’s Canelo, Ladbrokes Trophy runner-up Aye Right and the Nick Williams-trained One For The Team are also among the runners.
Rehearsal Chase winner Yorkhill has been declared, but only as his second preference in case Cheltenham’s meeting is lost to the weather, where he is due to run in the Cotswold Chase.
The Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle is dominated by the Henderson pair of Floressa and Marie’s Rock.
Floressa came out on top at Newbury when the previously-unbeaten Marie’s Rock met trouble in running.