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Shishkin oozes class with faultless Kempton return

Delight for Nicky Henderson in Desert Orchid Chase.

SHISHKIN QUASHED ALL worries about his well-being when running out a hugely impressive winner of the Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park.

shishkin-ridden-by-jockey-nico-de-boinville-on-their-way-to-winning-the-ladbrokes-desert-orchid-chase-during-desert-orchid-chase-day-of-the-ladbrokes-christmas-festival-at-kempton-park-picture-date Shishkin ridden by Nico de Boinville en route to victory. Source: Alamy Stock Photo

Making a later than expected return to action, Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old stamped a huge claim to be crowned the best two-mile chaser in training.

Henderson had wanted to run his stable star in Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, but in the week leading up to that the Seven Barrows trainer felt the Arkle winner needed a bit longer to get up to full speed.

Yet again Henderson’s judgement proved spot on, and while he was given a late scare by the Kempton ground turning testing, he had a smile from ear to ear after the race.

It was far from a penalty kick for Shishkin on paper, with Tingle Creek hero Greaneteen in the field as well as Grand Annual winner Sky Pirate.

And while Shishkin did briefly need to be pushed along by Nico de Boinville just before the turn into the straight, he soon came back on the bridle.

Bryony Frost made her bid on Greaneteen – but Shishkin breezed past the multiple Grade One winner as if he was stood still, albeit in receipt of 3lb.

De Boinville kept the 4-9 favourite up to his work between the last two fences and he powered away to win by 10 lengths.

Henderson said: “It is a relief, but it’s more than that – I am genuinely thrilled with him.

“I was nervous we weren’t really there, but we had to come out. When I looked at the ground yesterday I thought ‘should we come out and wait for the Clarence House’. Now it’s over and it’s great to see him back.

“He was in a bad place for three weeks, which is why he didn’t run in the Tingle Creek. Then his trachea wash backed it up – that he was wrong. It wasn’t the most popular decision, but it was the right decision.

“We’ve just got back in time for this. The temptation was to wait for the Clarence House as it gave us another couple of weeks, but I was pretty keen to get out here and get a run into him.

“He’s not flashy at home, but Nico came in three or four times last week and said he felt good and he’s got to be the judge.

“It’s great that it’s over as he’s proved one thing – he’s as good as ever, he still is what he promised to be. Class is everything and the way he crosses fences is extraordinary.”

jockey-nico-de-boinville-left-speaks-to-trainer-nicky-henderson-after-winning-the-ladbrokes-desert-orchid-chase-on-shishkin-during-desert-orchid-chase-day-of-the-ladbrokes-christmas-festival-at-kemp Jockey Nico De Boinville speaks to trainer Nicky Henderson after winning the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton.

On future plans, he added: “I’d like to have another run (before Cheltenham). The trouble is the Clarence House comes up quickly and the Game Spirit comes quite close to Cheltenham and you probably haven’t got a lot in between.

“He didn’t run in the Tingle Creek because he was all wrong – he was as flat as a pancake. I had no worries about missing Sandown at all – he wasn’t right and the horse comes first.

“If I’d run him in the Tingle Creek I’d have wrecked him, but as you can see he’s back now and we can push on and go forward and look forward to what’s in front of us.”

Edwardstone ran out a most impressive winner of the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park, cementing his position in the betting for the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in March.

A Grade One winner last time out at Sandown, Alan King’s charge was dropping down in class for this contest at Grade Two level – and as a result was giving away 5lb to his three rivals.

Bryony Frost sent Solo into an early lead and with some fluent jumping tried to stretch the field out.

Edwardstone made a bit of a hash of the first fence, but was soon back on an even keel for Tom Cannon and adopting his usual stalking role at the rear.

As Solo began to weaken, Do Your Job hit the front seemingly full of running with Edwardstone in behind.

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But as he had at Sandown, Edwardstone once again displayed a taking turn of foot and in a matter of strides the race was over.

He flew the last and the 8-15 favourite was ridden out to come home a 10-length winner.

Porticello turned what looked a strong renewal of the Grade One Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle into a procession at Chepstow.

With stamina the emphasis on rain-softened soft ground and with the final hurdle omitted, leaving a three-furlong run-in, it proved tough going for many of the 11 runners.

Yet the Gary Moore-trained Porticello, who had finished runner-up to Knight Salute in a muddling Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster, jumped to the front at the penultimate flight and drew readily clear to give the Horsham yard their first Grade One success over hurdles.

His hurdling, which had been a little indifferent at Doncaster, was better here, although he made a slight mistake of the fourth of the seven flights of hurdles under Jamie Moore.

The strapping son of Sholokhov was keen early on, and his rider did well to hang on to him. After settling him, he got into a good rhythm and readily drew clear after jumping the penultimate flight.

The 100-30 chance had eight and a half lengths to spare from Saint Segal, with Forever William a further three-quarters of a length back in third.

The 9-4 favourite Forever Blessed was pulled up before the penultimate flight with Sean Bowen’s saddle having slipped when he did well to stay aboard after being squeezed for room on the rail approaching three out.

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