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    Henderson Aims for Gold Cup Success with Shishkin
Henderson Aims for Gold Cup Success with Shishkin
Nicky Henderson with Shishkin by PA Images

Henderson Aims for Gold Cup Success with Shishkin

Nicky Henderson's focus remains firmly on claiming victory in the prestigious Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup as he prepares Shishkin for the renowned Cheltenham Festival event.

A seasoned figure at the Festival's start, Henderson has clinched the Champion Hurdle on day one an impressive nine times. However, conquering the Gold Cup has posed a greater challenge for the Seven Barrows trainer over the years.

Despite its elusive nature, the Gold Cup has graced Henderson's Lambourn base twice in its century-long history. Pursuing a third triumph in this esteemed race continues to dominate his thoughts each season.

Henderson, reflecting on his approach, stated,

"The Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup are paramount because they showcase the best horses, embodying the essence of racing. Owners often inquire about my Cheltenham race choices shortly after acquiring a horse."

In 2011, Henderson secured his first Gold Cup victory with Long Run, who dethroned the formidable Kauto Star and Denman. This marked a pivotal shift in power to Henderson and his talented six-year-old.

The subsequent year saw Long Run unable to defend his title, but Henderson's next triumph emerged in the form of Bobs Worth. Two years after his maiden Gold Cup win, Bobs Worth displayed exceptional staying power under jockey Barry Geraghty, etching his name in Cheltenham history.

Henderson holds Long Run and Bobs Worth in high esteem, setting a standard for future Gold Cup contenders. Shishkin, this year's hopeful, has garnered Henderson's endorsement as he gears up for his momentous challenge.

Comparing Shishkin to past champions, Henderson remarked,

"Shishkin's qualities align favourably with Long Run and Bobs Worth. Bobs Worth's unassuming nature concealed his remarkable ability, epitomising unwavering determination on the track."

Shishkin, originally excelling in shorter races, now faces the arduous three-and-a-quarter-mile Gold Cup test. Henderson anticipates this transition, drawing parallels to other horses like Desert Orchid and Altior who excelled after moving up in distance.

Shishkin's journey to Gold Cup contender status has been marked by challenges, including early career setbacks and a stint with Zara Tindall to refocus his mindset. Henderson's expertise has played a crucial role in guiding the 10-year-old through these trials.

Recent outings have showcased Shishkin's potential, with victories and near-misses underscoring his credentials for the Gold Cup. Henderson is confident in Shishkin's staying power, citing his strong showings and the horse's readiness for the upcoming challenge.

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