Shishkin is arguably the most boring horse in this list as it’s not like people didn’t see him win the Supreme Novices Hurdle. At the beginning of last season, I highlighted Shishkin in my Horses To Follow and highlighted the Supreme Novices Hurdle as the target. Honestly though my confidence waned during the season not in his ability but I was convinced Nicky Henderson was campaigning him with the Neptune Novices Hurdle as the target. The step up in trip and finishing strongly at Huntingdon still suggested to me that he will be in the intermediate Novice hurdle trip.
He didn’t though, Henderson stuck to his guns and raced Shishkin in the Supreme Novices Hurdle and despite things not going perfectly he still finished strongly and won in good style holding off the challenge from Abacadabras who had travelled like the winner for most of the race. Straight away he looked like he would do even better with a fence in front of him and the Arkle looks the obvious target this year.
I thought the way he picked up from the turn in and his strong finish up the hill was arguably the performance of the week for me. I was that impressed and think the form of the race will work out really well.
Whilst it is a boring ‘Horse To Follow’ I think Shishkin will win the Arkle and can see him going through the season unbeaten.
Allart finished 5th in the Supreme Novices, which as above, I think will have been a very strong race. He arrived at Cheltenham off the back of 2 easy victories in Novice events when he did as what was expected but he then he really stepped up on this when finishing 5th at Cheltenham. He was held up out the back before running on well past those who were not good enough and finished 5th beaten 15 lengths.
Having now stepped into a ‘proper’ race he should have improved for that race and I can see him being competitive in the feature handicaps off his mark of 142. In handicap company, I think we will see he’s a genuine Grade 1 horse and could win a couple of the feature handicaps with the Intermediate Handicap Hurdle at Newbury looking like an obvious starting point for me. The Betfair Hurdle and County Hurdle would then be high on my list of targets with him.
Burrows Edge finished 13th in the Coral Cup despite moving into contention at the 2nd last having arrived after winning an eventful Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton when given a very patient or confident ride. I was therefore slightly surprised by the change in tactics and do even wonder whether this was a plan B after ‘accidentally’ winning at Kempton. It’s potentially controversial to say that but go and watch the race at Kempton and look for when Nico De Boinville asks Burrows Edge to make his move. He doesn’t until those towards the front fell in front of him.
He was raised 6lb for winning the Lanzarote and feel Cheltenham was a change of plan after winning and with the trainer confident in Dame De Compagnie. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Burrows Edge campaigned with the Lanzarote and the 2 ½ mile Handicap at Aintree as the long term plan.
French Crusader only had 2 runs last season and they were a win at Newbury before finishing 2nd at Newbury 3 weeks later. This came in the Intermediate Handicap Hurdle that I feel is one that always works out. It really did last season as the winner was Epatante and she obviously went on to win the Champion Hurdle. French Crusader was getting just 2lb from her and this was arguably a very good performance.
After this he did suffer an injury which put him out for the rest of the season but if he comes back this season and gets his fitness back then I think he’s very well handicapped and can run some big races in some of the feature handicaps. The County Hurdle could be the race they plan backwards from.