Shishkin heads to the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham
Shishkin comfortably won the Betway Sidney Banks Novices’ Hurdle at Huntingdon on Thursday but, what did we learn from the race about Shishkin’s Cheltenham Festival prospects.
First off, and importantly his trainer Nicky Henderson confirmed Shishkin’s intended target at the Cheltenham Festival as the first race of the meeting, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Having stepped up to 2 miles 3 furlongs for the Sidney Banks, Nicky Henderson, in his post-race interview said
“It’s going to be 2 miles and we’ll leave it at that” NICKY HENDERSON
If all goes to plan, it looks like we will next see Shishkin in the 2 mile Supreme Novices’ at Cheltenham and not the alternative Ballymore over an additional 5 furlongs.
What did we learn about Shishkin's Supreme Novices' Hurdle Chances from Huntingdon?
Shishkin is clearly a very talented horse and a future top-class performer in the making. Though I’m not sure his Huntingdon performance told us anything more about his prospects of success at Cheltenham than we already knew!
I’d question whether he actually achieved more in winning at Newbury on his previous run. Okay, so he saw off, and with ease some fair performers in the Sidney Banks, but in terms of a test similar to what he is likely to face at Cheltenham, it told us little.
The Sidney Banks was run at a very steady pace until 6 furlongs out. All 5 runners travelled nicely until the pace started to quicken. Undeniably Shishkin proved vastly superior by the finishing line but what we don’t know is his ability to show the speed he showed at the end of his last 2 races off a championship gallop.
The Supreme Novices will likely be a very different type of test. The norm is very a strong gallop from the off and a full test of speed and endurance at the 2-mile trip. As yet, Shishkin has not proved he will have the same finishing speed when reserves have been used earlier in the race. I’m not saying he won’t, more that he hasn’t been tested as yet.
Watch Shishkin winning the Sidney Banks at Huntingdon
Shishkin 3/1 for the Supreme Novices Hurdle
At the time of writing, Shishkin is a best-priced 3/1 and as short as 5/2 in places. Is there any value in this price?
As you’d expect there are a whole host of talented horses lining up as potential opponents in the Supreme Novices’. Some who have run in trials which have provided a test more akin to the Cheltenham contest.
Asterion Forlonge looked like a very exciting prospect when winning at Leopardstown. Abacadabras has contested some of the top novice races in Ireland and showed his suitability for the pace and hustle of the Cheltenham Festival when 4th in last season’s Champion Bumper. Colin Tizzard has a very strong hand in the novice hurdle category this year, not least Master Debonair and Fiddlerontheroof. All these are possible winners, not to mention several other horses of serious potential.
I’m surprised that Shishkin shortened a point or so in the Supreme Novices betting straight after his Huntingdon win. At 3/1, I think there is no value in backing Shishkin at this stage, I could see that price being bigger on the day and am not convinced he will eventually go off favourite.
As a betting proposition, I’d rather wait, and with more information decide on the day.