Trainer Nicky Henderson has a stable full of talent and with the exception of a Cross Country Chase contender he has horses capable of winning most of this year’s Cheltenham Festival races.
He has a particularly strong team of novice hurdlers and two of them are towards the top of the Cheltenham betting odds lists for the Supreme Novices Hurdle – Chantry House and Shishkin, two horses who completed their Festival preparations with striking victories in recent days.
The J.P. McManus owned Chantry House, who won an Irish point-to-point in December 2018, was visually impressive at Newbury where he took his jumps record to a perfect three-from-three (all at odds on) on Saturday. Winning in facile fashion he’s now into 11/1 (William Hill) to win the opening race at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.
But we believe his stablemate, Shishkin, performed even better when landing a listed contest at Huntingdon last Thursday. 11 lengths was his winning margin there, identical to his winning distance in Newbury in January where he beat off 13 rivals with consummate ease.
This duo can now be considered the UK’s most exciting novice hurdling prospects and until they are beaten (Shiskin did fall on his hurdle debut in December) we have no idea of exactly how good they are.
We do know seven of the past 12 Skybet Supreme Novice Hurdle winners were amongst the top three in the betting odds and eight of the last ten winners had won on their most recent outing. Six-year-olds have also fared best in this race in recent years which both Shiskin and Chantry House are.
So it seems hard to split them on face value but as Shiskin beat a better field (with proven form) at Huntingdon and at Betfair’s 3/1 sits at the head of the betting, he very much ‘frames’ as a Supreme Novice Hurdle winner.