Horse Racing Weekend Preview: Which Shishkin Will Show Up At Newbury?
Racing Post expert Keith Melrose previews this weekend’s action of horse racing including big meetings at Newbury, Navan, Warwick and Exeter.
Betfair Super Saturday At Newbury
Newbury’s Super Saturday card might seem small beer compared with the Dublin Racing Festival, but it has produced more than its share of Cheltenham Festival clues in recent years.
For a start, the Denman Chase is the race that has produced the last two British-trained winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Novice Coneygree booked his place in the Gold Cup with success in the Denman in 2015, then three years later Native River won the race on his belated reappearance before a memorable Gold Cup win.
That it is coming up to six years since the last British winner of the Gold Cup is startling enough. For the Denman to produce another Native River this year probably relies on Shishkin. He is racing’s current anti-hero. Talented and charismatic enough to beat anyone on his day, Shishkin has also been known to down tools. He threw away last year’s Ryanair Chase and refused to race at all at Ascot in November.
His latest mishap, an unseat in the King George, was barely his fault at all. You fancy if he had stood up he would have won. The same horse that ran that day would surely win this race. Protektorat, who kept Britain’s other main Gold Cup L’Homme Presse honest at Lingfield three weeks ago, is expected to play a similar role here.
Newbury 2.40 pm Preview
The other Grade 2 on Newbury’s card is the Game Spirit Chase. Two of the runners, Edwardstone and Editeur Du Gite, went off at 15-8 and 13-2 for last year’s Champion Chase. However, neither has had much of a season in 2023/24 and some lists earlier this week put in Boothill as favourite. His form is in handicaps, although if you take ratings from this season into account he deserves to be taken seriously.
If the likes of Amarillo Sky feature prominently in this race, it can likely be disregarded as a guide to the Champion Chase. However, that horse has good course form which is only a small handful of pounds off the market leaders. The only catch is that he has not been seen in over a year, but any money for him would be notable.
The support card at Warwick is competitive in its own right, with the veterans’ chase at 2.55 a particularly good betting heat. However, it is unlikely to have any great bearing on the Cheltenham Festival.
Matata, odds-on favourite for the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase, is 33-1 for the Arkle while the mares’ hurdle favourite You Wear It Well is 16s for the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle. Either would tighten up somewhat if they were to win well on Saturday.
Do not neglect the Sunday racing when it comes to Cheltenham clues. The Boyne Hurdle at Navan could include last year’s Stayers’ Hurdle winner Sire Du Berlais, as well as a few with designs on the Cheltenham chases. The Ten Up Novice Chase an hour later has been known to throw up the odd contender for the Brown Advisory.
Exeter hosts an important qualifier for the Pertemps Final. Not so long ago, it would often provide the favourite for the Final, although Ireland’s recent Cheltenham Festival dominance has lessened that effect somewhat. Still, expect ructions in the ante-post betting if there is a clear-cut winner.