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It’s finally happening, people! That’s right, the blockbuster clash between the two-mile superstars on either side of the Irish Sea, Shishkin and Energumene, is on.
Less than eight weeks out from the Cheltenham Festival, the pair have been declared for the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday, which will almost certainly act as a teaser for the Champion Chase in March.
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If Shishkin v Energumene wasn’t enough to whet the appetite then the four-runner field also includes last season’s champ First Flow and course-and-distance winner Amoola Gold.
We’ve got a proper race on our hands and you can swot up on the runners below. Our pals at Timeform have also given us an early tip if you fancy a flutter.
Trainer: Dan Skelton Jockey: Harry Skelton Age: 9 Weight: 11st 7lbs
Smart chaser who resumed with C&D win but only sixth in 2m Cheltenham handicap last month. He faces a very tall order here.
Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey: Paul Townend Age: 8 Weight: 11st 7lbs
Unbeaten in five starts over fences, and he was a most impressive reappearance winner of Grade 2 at Cork last month, jumping fluently. Hugely exciting Irish challenger who rates a big player.
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Trainer: Kim Bailey Jockey: David Bass Age: 10 Weight: 11st 7lbs
High-class chaser who got right back on track with emphatic victory in Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon. Landed this event 12 months ago too but he needs to raise his game plenty if he’s to follow up.
Trainer: Nicky Henderson Jockey: Nico de Boinville Age: 8 Weight: 11st 7lbs
Top-class novice last term (easily won Arkle Chase at Cheltenham) and he returned after a wind op with facile success in Grade 2 at Kempton. Fine jumper who can retain his unbeaten record over fences.
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TIMEFORM VERDICT: Nicky Henderson’s SHISHKIN faces his stiffest test yet over fences but is fancied to follow in the hoofprints of the stable’s fomer winners of this Grade 1 Altior and Sprinter Sacre and confirm himself the premier 2m chaser. Irish-challenger Energumene also arrives unbeaten in this sphere and should ensure this is a race to savour, with last year’s victor First Flow no forlorn hope either.
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- Matt Chapman: Shishkin’s going to annihilate Energumene in the Clarence House Chase
- Frank Hickey: Everything in Energumene’s favour against Shishkin at Ascot