Nicky Henderson has won the Skybet Supreme Novices' Hurdle on three occasions, River Ceiriog (1986), Flown (1992) and Altior (2016) and the former champion trainer may have another live contender for the 2020 version if Shishkin's victory at Newbury on Wednesday is anything to go by. Purchased for £170,000 in December 2018 having won the second of his two Irish points, the Sholokhov gelding bolted up in a Kempton bumper last spring. Reported to have been slow to come to hand in the Autumn, he was too fresh and over jumped at the second on his hurdles debut at his local track in December and paid the price. Back in action a month later, the six year old was much more relaxed and quickened up smartly after the last to bound clear of the highly regarded Shakem Up'Arry. The way he pulled clear in heavy ground in a good time was impressive. Henderson suggested afterwards that Shishkin is likely to have one more run before heading to the Cheltenham Festival. Expect him to be entered in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, too, but the Festival opener looks his most likely destination. Featured in the Top 40 Prospects in One Jump Ahead, I hope readers of the Christmas Special took the advice and snapped up the fancy prices - 40/1 with Bet365 but generally 25/1 - for the Skybet Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
Switching codes, congratulations to ValueRacingClub.co.uk who were amongst the winners at Wolverhampton. Nikolayeva (16/1) was claimed out of Sir Mark Prescott's yard for £5,000 having finished at the Midlands track a month earlier and the daughter of Archipenko won on her first start for her new connections in the opening nine furlongs handicap off a mark of 55. Given a splendid ride by Luke Morris, she was sporting a hood for the first time on her debut for Mick Appleby and will be even better over further. Long-term, she has the size and scope to jump hurdles. She looks another shrewd purchase by racing manager James Couldwell and his successful syndicate.
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