Shishkin could make his long-awaited seasonal debut in the Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase in Kempton this holiday season if he likes coach Nicky Henderson is a crucial second workout next week.
The double winner of the Cheltenham Festival pleased his Seven Barrows handler during exercise on Friday morning, but wants to test the seven-year-old again before deciding to enter the two-mile race on December 27.
Shiskhin, who is undefeated in his last eight starts, was last seen following his triumph in the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham with another grade one win in the Maghull Novice Chase at Aintree in April.
He was supposed to start his campaign this winter in Tingle Creek Chase in Sandown earlier this month, but Henderson wasn’t happy with the horse’s condition. His concern was justified when Shishkin took aim poorly on the eve of the match.
Speaking at Ascot on Friday, Henderson said, “Shishkin worked this morning with Epatante and another very good newbie – not Constitution Hill – and he was good.
“He had a good shot. His reach was good after that which was encouraging, but I need to repeat it on Tuesday. He had a good shot this morning.
“It’s clean. The vets were in the yard because of Buzz (who suffered an injury), so we watched him and he’s clean after a real canter.”
“I want to do that gallop again. It will probably be done on Tuesday, because the race is Monday (next week) and then I will talk to Joe (Donnelly, owner) and Nico and I will decide on Tuesday if he is ready for a race the following Monday.
“If he’s not ready, Joe Donnelly is great. He says ‘Nicky, if you’re not happy, forget it, we’ll come here for Clarence House (next month)’. But he’s in good shape.”