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SHISHKIN has quickly reached a top-class level of form over fences, winning all three starts without needing to come off the bridle. He put up his best performance when landing the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton over Christmas, jumping fluently and producing his trademark strong finish to beat the subsequent Grade 2 winner Tamaroc du Mathan by 13 lengths.
That form is already good enough to win an average renewal of the Arkle, while the large ‘P’ attached to his Timeform rating denotes that he is still open to significant improvement. Shishkin is very hard to oppose as a result, especially as he has already shown he acts at Cheltenham, when winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s Festival.
MONKFISH made it three from three over fences when annihilating the opposition in the Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown last month, producing an exemplary round of jumping from the front to beat Latest Exhibition by 11 lengths.
That defeat of some smart rivals identifies Monkfish as Timeform’s highest-rated novice chaser in training, while he remains with the potential to scale even greater heights as he gains in experience over fences.
That will be a scary prospect for his rivals at Cheltenham, where Monkfish is already a winner having landed the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s Festival. For context, Monkfish is rated higher at this stage of the season than any other horse to have contested this Grade 1 since the turn of the century.
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CHACUN POUR SOI was a red-hot favourite for the 2020 Champion Chase when a foot abscess ruled him out of the race at the eleventh hour, so his connections will be keen to make amends at this year’s Festival.
Chacun Pour Soi has returned at least as good as ever this season, winning all three starts and producing another top-class display when last seen cruising to victory in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown for the second year in a row.
Overall, Chacun Pour Soi has now won six of his seven starts over fences since joining Mullins, identifying himself as Timeform’s highest-rated horse in training, not just in the two-mile chasing division. In fact, he has already run to a level that would have been good enough to win eight of the last 10 renewals of the Champion Chase.
PAISLEY PARK has had valid excuses for both his defeats in the two years since his victory in the 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle. Crucially, he was found to be suffering from an irregular heartbeat when only seventh in the 2020 edition of this race, while he then emerged as the best horse at the weights when beaten just a length-and-a-half into second behind Thyme Hill (who received 3lbs) in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on his return.
Paisley Park avenged that defeat when coming from an unlikely position to win the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot last time, finding plenty on the run-in to beat Thyme Hill by a neck. That represents the strongest form in the division and any other potential rivals have a bit to find to come up to the level of an on-song Paisley Park, especially with Thyme Hill ruled out.
Tuesday 13:55 Arkle Chase – Shishkin
Wednesday 13:55 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase – Monkfish
Wednesday 15:05 Queen Mother Champion Chase – Chacun Pour Soi
Thursday 15:05 Stayers’ Hurdle – Paisley Park
READ MORE ON CHELTENHAM 2021
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