Shishkin returns with classy win in Kempton's Desert Orchid Chase

Shishkin blew off the cobwebs and at the same time blew away the opposition, returning to action with a tremendous performance to win the Ladbrokes Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on Monday.

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 1 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.

His performance ensured that he was made general favourite with bookmakers for the Champion Chase.

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.

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."

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