PA File photo of Shishkin.
Shishkin for the Queen Mother: 3 tips for Day Two of Cheltenham
Johnny Ward brings you his tips for Wednesday.

AS 10-11 SHOTS go at the Cheltenham Festival, Shishkin looks as good as it gets.

Day one at the Festival showed that a repeat of Ireland’s 23-5 hammering last year is not going to happen. Moreover, it illustrated that Nicky Henderson has his horses peaking at the right time.

And this is a race he dominates like no other here. 

Henderson’s February hit-rate was modest by his standards but he not only provided a 1-2 in the Supreme: Marie’s Rock, an 18-1 chance, ran away from a mares’ novices’ hurdle field pretty much full of fancied Irish horses.

So Shishkin, who contests a feature Queen Mother (3.30) for the ages on day two, has no negatives whatever. He has never been beaten, which is a fairly obvious positive, and he was nearly flawless over this course in the Arkle last year. But mainly he beat Energumene in the Clarence House and it was clear on the day he did that despite wanting to go left-handed.

Shishkin must have lost a few lengths, yet he still beat Energumene, and I can’t see how the Mullins runner reverses that form, yet Willie Mullins’ other runner, Chacun Pour Soi, has been abandoned by Paul Townend.

Chacun Pour Soi arguably rates a bigger danger if such exists. There is that nagging doubt that he didn’t take to this place last year for whatever reason.

I make Shishkin a 1-2 shot or thereabouts, yet he is available at much bigger than that. He absolutely loves the hill and I see no negatives whatever. If you are to have one bet this week, let this be it.

I like the claims too of Beacon Edge at 12-1 in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (2.10), a race that has opened up with Galopin Des Champs going for the Turners instead. He’s 11-1 with William Hill, which is paying four each-way places.

Beacon Edge wasn’t beaten very far in the Stayers’ Hurdle last season and that was a hell of a performance from him. Indeed, he was only grabbed for third close home by Paisley Park.

Beacon Edge jumps fences perfectly well, for all that he fell two runs back behind Galopin Des Champs. He bounced back with a gutsy run behind Farouk D’alene at Navan, giving the winner 7lbs, and Noel Meade’s first runner at the 2021 Festival can be a winning one.

The bumper (5.30) must rate as good a renewal as we’ve ever seen. The record-breaking Quevega, who farmed the mares’ hurdle even though it’s a race I don’t believe should exist, is carrying her talents to the breeding barns.

She’s the daddy of Facile Vega, who is by Walk In The Park, a stallion having a fairly sensational run of it. And he looked awesome at Leopardstown. 

American Mike has looked similarly sensational yet he’s a much bigger price (5-2). His 17-length rout at Navan last time has worked out very well form-wise and he was nowhere near extended, so he could be anything. 

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