Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase
Grade 2, Kempton Park 14:30
£100,000 guaranteed, 4yo plus,
2m, Class 1  
Monday 27th December 2021


1 Shishkin 4/9F
2 Greaneteen 3/1
3 Sky Pirate 20/1
4 ran Distances: 10l, 3l, 7l
Time: 4m 1.83s (slow by 11.83s)

Making a later than expected return to action, the Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin 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.”

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.

Paul Nicholls felt the ground was simply too soft for Greaneteen.

He said: “Bryony said he just hated the ground – end of story. She said ‘I don’t need to say anything else’. We were going to go to Ascot for the Clarence House, but she said ‘leave him to the spring ground’.

“We will perhaps go to the Game Spirit, then the Champion Chase, then Sandown (Celebration Chase). The 3lb he was giving away made no difference and you have got to run in these type of races.

Trainers Quotes

Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase
£100,000 guaranteed,
4yo plus, 2m, Class 1
4 ran

Going: Soft

1     Shishkin 7 11-3 Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville 4/9F
10 Greaneteen 7 11-6 Paul Nicholls Bryony Frost 3/1
3 Sky Pirate 8 11-4 Jonjo O'Neill Nick Scholfield 20/1
7 Before Midnight 8 11-0 Sam Thomas Sam Twiston-Davies 12/1

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