Shishkin went through training on Tuesday which allowed Nicky Henderson to continue targeting the Betfair Ascot Chase on February 18.
So brilliant at his best over two miles, the nine-year-old will race on the longest trip he’s had since his point-to-point days.
Since stopping in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March, he has returned to action when he was only third behind Edwardstone in the Tingle Creek.
Henderson said he was keen to step it up in the trip and it was to be in the Silvinaco Conti Chase in Kempton – but Shishkin ‘turned his palace upside down’ giving him minor surgery, 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,” Henderson said.
“Upgrading isn’t even a question mark for me, it’s an absolute necessity, and therefore we didn’t even sign him for the Champion Chase.
“You’d like to think it might take you to the Ryanair Chase, although we’ve also put him in the Gold Cup as we’ve come to the firm conclusion that he’s a stayer, but we’ll see.”
It will face last year’s winner, Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies, last seen winning in slightly lucky circumstances at Thurles.
“Fakir D’oudairies is a scheduled runner in the Betfair Ascot Chase,” O’Brien said. “We were very happy with the way his preparation went at Thurles. It was a very hot race and should hopefully set him up for another successful spring campaign.
“He’s been around for a while and has already achieved a lot, but he’s by no means an old horse and I see no reason why he can’t have another good end to the season at least.”
A total of 13 were entered for the first year, including the improved Pic D’Orhy of Paul Nicholls and his stablemate Hitman.
Fanion D’Estruval, Two For Gold from last year, Paint The Dream and First Gold are all in the game.
The Betfair Ascot Chase – Sponsor Odds: 7/4 Fakir D’Oudairies, 3/1 Shishkin, 7/2 Pic D’Orhy, 5/1 Hitman, 6/1 Pennant d’Estruval, 10/1 Millers Bank, 14/1 Two For Gold, 16/1 Paint The Dream, 20/1 First Flow, Sam Brown, Stolen Silver, 40/1 Aye Right, Minella Drama
**All-Way 3 Seater 1/5 Odds
Betfair spokesman Barry Orr said: ”It’s a very solid entry list and Fakir D’Oudairies, the 7/4 favourite, looks sure to make the trip to defend his crown. There’s also an eye-catching entry for Shishkin, which is a 3/1 shot. Pic D’Orhy is an improved horse this season and could be a popular choice in the coming weeks. It is currently trading at 7/2′.”
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