Betfair Ascot Chase
Grade 1, Ascot 15:35
 £175,000 guaranteed,
5yo plus,
2m 5f 8y, Class 1  
Saturday 18th February 2023

1 Shishkin 2/1
2 Pic D'Orhy 3/1
3 Fakir D'oudairies 7/4F
6 ran Distances: 16l, 7l, 3l
Time: 5m 16.21s (slow by 4.21s)

Stepped up to two miles and five furlongs, against a couple of specialists at that trip in Pic D’Orhy and Fakir D’Oudairies, Shishkin was imperious, travelling smoothly throughout and bounding 16 lengths clear.

He is now as short as 11-10 favourite for the Ryanair next month.

“I think we’ve got the old Shishkin back, thank goodness,” said trainer Nicky Henderson.

“It’s been a big effort from a lot of people and the Donnellys have been amazing. They were supposed to be here, Joe had a plane booked but for the wrong day, apparently. But I’ve just spoken to him in Switzerland and he’s delighted.

“He has always just said ‘do what you think is the right thing’ so we’ve changed a lot of things, but today was the crossroads to see if he still had a future at the top table.”

Henderson went on: “He was a hero but we’ve seen it before where they fall off the top, but everybody has done their bit. The vets have been brilliant. He had his bone problem, then a wind issue but the most important thing was upping the trip.

“That was the one thing in my own mind I was confident about. In the Clarence House last year he was flat out the whole way and was beaten two out, he won that day because he stayed. After the Tingle Creek there was only one thing to do.

“By slowing the pace, he can then race on the bridle. He’s not a brilliant work horse so he’s hard to assess that way, I think he’ll improve for the run because he’s had a good blow – it’s been a while since the Tingle Creek.

“This was always the race, we’ve got it done and I can’t tell you what I relief it is. We’re very lucky to get these good horses and it’s very sad if they fall off the table. When it does go right, if you get them back, it is extra special.”


Of the chances of Shishkin taking up his Gold Cup entry, Henderson added: “I would have thought it would be pretty stupid, but I’ve done some stupid things in my time so far!

“He’s not in the Champion Chase and he’s not coming into it, at least I can say he’s in the other two. I would have thought the most likely has got to be the Ryanair, it’s the sensible one.”

Nico De Boinville, who also played his part in Sprinter Sacre’s renaissance, said: “He felt a different horse. He was doing everything right at home and that wind op has definitely helped a whole load.

“I said to the guv’nor we’d know our fate after the first two and so it proved.

“When you are dealing with horses like that, you have to believe in them. I felt from the way he was at home that he retained his ability, it was just a question of finding his way back and the guv’nor is a master at doing that with these horses.

“I think the Ryanair is the right race. Where else do you go after a race like that? You certainly don’t drop him back to two miles and you’d be very brave to step him up to three-two in the Gold Cup, so I think two-five in the Ryanair is about right for him.

“It was just hands and heels and he’ll come on for that run, I’ve no doubt.”

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Betfair Ascot Chase
£175,000 guaranteed, 5yo plus, 2m 5f 8y, Class 1
6 ran
Going: Good to Soft

1     Shishkin 9 11-10 Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville 2/1
16 Pic D'Orhy 8 11-10 Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden 3/1
7 Fakir D'Oudairies 8 11-10 Joseph O'Brien J J Slevin 7/4F
4 3 Aye Right 10 11-10 Harriet Graham & Gary Rutherford Ryan Mania 66/1
nk Millers Bank 9 11-10 Alex Hales Jonathan Burke 14/1
FELL First Flow 11 11-10 Kim Bailey David Bass 18/1