HORSE RACING: Cheltenham Festival favourite Shishkin shines with success at Huntingdon Racecourse
- Credit: Archant
All roads lead to the Cheltenham Festival for the winner of one of the feature races of the year at Huntingdon Racecourse.
Hot property Shishkin is already one of the favourites for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle - the traditional curtain-raiser for the Festival - next month.
And former champion trainer Nicky Henderson's star did not put a foot wrong when warming up for that big date with victory in the Betway Sidney Banks Memorial Novices' Hurdle - a Listed contest worth £30,000 - at Huntingdon last Thursday.
Facing four rivals, Shishkin was sent off the 1-2 favourite and gave his supporters nothing to worry about as he strode clear to an 11-length success in the hands of stable jockey Nico de Boinville.
Race sponsor Betway responded to Shishkin's win by trimming his odds for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle to 3-1 from a previous price of 4-1.
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But the hot favourite was beaten in last Thursday's other feature event - the £25,000 Betway Handicap Hurdle.
Market leader Tea Clipper was turned over at odds of 7-4 when only able to finish a length-and-three-quarters second to Cervaro Mix in the near two-and-a-half mile contest.
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The 8-1 winner was ridden to success by Gavin Sheehan for trainer Oliver Sherwood.
Two other favourites did oblige with the three mile, one furlong handicap hurdle going to The Composeur (100-30) with Jonjo O'Neill jnr in the saddle for his father of the same name, and Coquelicot (9-4) landing the closing bumper under Rex Dingle for trainer Anthony Honeyball.
The opening novices' handicap hurdle over two miles turned into a battle of the co-favourites with Chinwag (ridden by Robert Dunne for trainer Neil Mulholland) getting the better of fellow 5-2 fancy Bard of Brittany by a length.
Loud As Lions landed the near three-mile novices' handicap chase at 17-2 with David Bass doing the steering aboard the Tom Symonds-trained horse, while trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies sent out Rizzardo to win the two mile, four furlong handicap chase at odds of 5-1 with Mr Zac Baker in the saddle.
Racing returns to Huntingdon next Thursday (February 20) ahead of a Family Fun Day on March 1 and the Festival Fever Raceday on March 11 when all the action from the Cheltenham Festival will also be screened.