Laid-back Shishkin completes 'pretty flawless season' with 1-8 success
Shishkin may not have won as stylishly as the betting suggested he might but he still managed to emulate Sprinter Sacre and Douvan.
Until Saturday, those top two-milers were the only pair to follow up in the Maghull Novices' Chase after landing the Arkle in the past decade and each treated Aintree to more of a procession than a race.
Sprinter Sacre started at odds of 1-7 and scored by 13 lengths in 2012, while Douvan bounded home by 14 lengths at 2-13 in 2016. All the indications were that Shishkin was in the same league and the punters wading in to support the 1-8 favourite certainly thought so.
Nicky Henderson accentuated the positives after his unbeaten chaser doubled up in rather more workmanlike fashion – whisper it quietly but there was a stride or two in the straight when it seemed runner-up Funambule Sivola may force him to dig into his untested reserves.
His trainer, who completed a similar double with Chantry House on Friday, said: "It's not easy for them to go to Cheltenham and Aintree.
"There's only three weeks between the two meetings and horses have got to be very good to do the two. Shishkin and Chantry House have had pretty flawless first seasons over fences."
Shishkin made his own running from as early as the fifth fence before winning by three and a quarter lengths, and Henderson added: "He was probably just getting a bit lonely in front. Nico [de Boinville] felt they weren't going quick enough down the back.
"He's very laid-back and has a wonderful temperament. He's like that at home, he's not flashy. You wouldn't know he's that good."
After getting closer to the favourite than many expected on the runner-up, jockey Charlie Deutsch said: "Turning in, I thought my lad would keep galloping and all I needed was Shishkin to fluff a couple and I might get there. He's a real professional and is pretty decent.
"I winged the last and I actually thought we might land running and if he tied up ever so slightly we might get him, but we didn't quite."
Shishkin remains 5-4 favourite for the 2022 Queen Mother Champion Chase with Paddy Power and is the latest standard-bearer for his trainer over two miles, following on from Sprinter Sacre and Altior, who could well still be around to take on his stablemate next season.
"They will have to meet because Grade 1 horses have got to run in Grade 1 races – I hope they'll both be there," added Henderson.
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