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    Henderson recalls the 'beautiful' Shishkin after his death
Henderson recalls the 'beautiful' Shishkin after his death
Henderson recalls the 'beautiful' Shishkin after his death. Source: geegeez.co.uk

Henderson recalls the 'beautiful' Shishkin after his death

Nicky Henderson has paid emotional respect to Shishkin following his untimely passing from an injury sustained in his stable.

After winning the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, the gelding's career as a hurdler began to take off.

Following that, he was an immediate success as a chaser, winning seven races in a row, including the Arkle, the Maghull, and the Desert Orchid Chase. He also achieved a memorable victory at Clarence House after facing Energumene in a race up the Ascot straight.

The gelding eventually lost that winning streak, which extended to ten races if his late hurdles form is taken into account, but he never stopped displaying moments of pure genius.

He won the Bowl at Aintree when stepping up in trip last year and the Ascot Chase by 16 lengths. He then looked the likely winner of the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day before failing with the race at his mercy, even though he refused to race when he returned to the old track for the 1965 Chase.

His last victory came in February at Newbury in the Denman Chase. A subpar scope ended his attempt to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and he had to chase home Gerri Colombe to finish fourth at Aintree earlier this month.

Shishkin was scheduled to race in the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup on Wednesday, but he was unable to continue due to a fractured hind leg sustained on Sunday after being cast in his box.

“It was horrendous, to be honest with you, he just didn’t deserve that,” Henderson told Sky Sports Racing. “There was nothing we could do. We had an army of vets and the best people in the world but they couldn’t repair it, I’m afraid. It’s just tragic, but everyone has been quite remarkable and you just have to appreciate how popular a horse can become.”

He nominated his 12-hour Arkle victory as a particular highlight, but Henderson regarded Shishkin's epic fight with Energumene as the peak of his career.

He said: “He won six Grade Ones, it should have been seven, as he should have won the King George really and I believe he would have done. One of his greatest days was when he won the Arkle at Cheltenham, he was brilliant, but that match with Energumene at Ascot in the Clarence House was probably his greatest race because he had to fight very hard that day. We were all set for Cheltenham and he couldn’t go there, we were just really looking forward to Punchestown and he was due to leave this morning. He was a beautiful horse, earlier in the season we sent him off to Zara Tindall to do some dressage to keep him amused and they adored him over there too – he could have done anything. He was lovely, he was a very gentle person too – he was very kind.”

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