Race: Ryanair Chase
Shishkin returned to his brilliant best in the Ascot Chase last time out and heads into Cheltenham as one of the shortest priced favourites at the meeting. Nicky Henderson’s gelding is a course winner, handles any ground, and there looked to be little fluke about his victory at Ascot with the right horses in behind. According to Timeform.com, Shishkin has over 10lbs in hand of his rivals, and none of those opponents appear to have the scope to bridge that gap with improvement. Realistically, connections of the other runners in the field will be relying on Shishkin underperforming. That is not beyond the realm of possibility, however, as he backs up quickly here following a big effort last time out and bombed out when odds-on at the Festival last year. However, he wasn’t right there and his best run came when second up off a lay-off having run less than four weeks earlier, which assuages those doubts somewhat.