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'How can you be wrong?' - Nicky Henderson hits back at Shishkin critics

Nicky Henderson on Shishkin: "If I'm not happy with him, he isn't going to run"
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Nicky Henderson has hit back at critics of his decision to rule Shishkin out of his intended reappearance in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase next Saturday and insists there would be no point in running his star unless he could run a "proper race".

Last season's runaway Arkle winner had been expected to make his return in the Sandown Grade 1 next weekend when he would have been set to come against either Chacun Pour Soi, Energumene or Allaho from Willie Mullins' yard, but Henderson announced on Wednesday he would bypass the race as he felt Shishkin was not ready for that assignment.

The decision sparked strong debate among media professionals and on social media, but the Seven Barrows trainer defended his decision on the Racing Post's What A Shout as he believes the exciting seven-year-old would not have been able to do himself justice at the Esher track.

'I feel he's not quite there' – Shishkin ruled out of Tingle Creek comeback

"We get to expect that [backlash]. It doesn't matter how you do it, when you do it. We just figured that it would be easier to make the decision now, let everybody have as much notice as possible. If you leave it to the last minute, you've done it too late," he said.

"Whenever you do it, you're wrong. How can you be wrong? I'm not happy with the horse. If I'm not happy with him, he isn't going to run, simply because he won't run a proper race. What is the point of running him?

"He's had a few issues. He started a bit late because he needed a wind operation and I think we've possibly had to just push a little bit. The ground hasn't helped us either. We weren't happy with his tracheal wash on Monday. It was just a bit murky, a bit of mucus – that is telling us everything."

Shishkin: Seven Barrows star will now reappear at Kempton over Christmas

Henderson received similar criticism last year when he pulled Altior out of the Tingle Creek at the last minute on account of the ground and while he said he was determined to run Joe and Marie Donnelly's star this time, the trainer was frustrated with the response to his decision once again.

"His work was all right but it's not what he's capable of. He's not there yet and you can't push these things. It's like trying to make a rose come out on Christmas Day and it does bug me," he added.

"The only thing that gets me is people who write things who blatantly – absolutely blatantly – know nothing about horses. I invite them to come down and spend a day with us, they'll go home and write a very, very different story, because they just don't understand what happens.

"If a horse isn't 100 per cent, what on earth is the point of running them in a Grade 1 race at this time of the year? It's a long season ahead. I want to run and so does he, I expect, but I'm not happy with him and Nico [de Boinville] wasn't happy with him, so you can't."

Shishkin remains the 7-4 favourite with Betfair and Paddy Power for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival – the shortest price of any British runners for the four main championship races – and is expected to make his comeback in the Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on December 27.

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It's like trying to make a rose come out on Christmas Day and it does bug me
E.W. Terms