Energumene (left) faces Shishkin at Ascot this weekend

Shishkin versus Energumene - key replays, Timeform ratings and trainer quotes ahead of Ascot


We have all you need to weigh up one of the most eagerly-anticipated jumps races for years as Shishkin and Energumene meet in the SBK Clarence House Chase.

The irresistible force versus the immoveable object – Shishkin and Energumene are both unbeaten chasers and were due to meet for the first time in the 2021 running of the Sporting Life Arkle, before Energumene was ruled out on account of a late setback and Shishkin waltzed to victory at Prestbury Park.

At the start of the current season a Cheltenham Festival clash in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase was expected to be the next chance of the pair potentially meeting for the first time, but Energumene’s trainer Willie Mullins has been aiming at this weekend since nominating Ascot's two-mile Grade One in December, while Nicky Henderson is bang up for the challenge with Shishkin after the horse came through a piece of work with flying colours last weekend.

Here are some of the key pointers to help punters unravel Saturday's mouth-watering feature.


Who will win the Clarence House Chase?

Our experts give their verdicts and tips on one of the most talked about National Hunt races for years:

Andrew Asquith - SHISHKIN

Matt Brocklebank - SHISHKIN

Ben Linfoot - ENERGUMENE

Graeme North - SHISHKIN

Who will follow in Shishkin's footsteps and win the Sporting Life Arkle?


Latest odds & offers

Having been the outsider of the pair prior to Henderson giving him the green light last weekend, Shishkin heads the betting for the Clarence House Chase as a general 4/6 favourite.

Energumene is 6/4 second-favourite, while it's 12/1 First Flow and 100/1 about the outsider of the quartet, Amoola Gold.

Click here for Sky Bet's EXCLUSIVE Price Boost on Shishkin!

Sky Bet have also priced up their 'Lengthen The Odds' market on the race and the prices are as follows:

Shishkin to win by 3.0 lengths or more 5/4

Shishkin to win by 5.0 lengths or more 15/8

Shishkin to win by 8.0 lengths or more 3/1

Energumene to win by 3.0 lengths or more 3/1

Energumene to win by 5.0 lengths or more 4/1

Energumene to win by 8.0 lengths or more 15/2

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook


Timeform ratings & horse comments

Very little to choose between the pair on their master Timeform ratings, Shishkin edging the verdict by 1 lb, weighing in at 175p compared to Energumene's 174p.

The 'small p' is an indication that both horses - the pair of them only eight years of age - are still open to further improvement over fences which is what makes Saturday's race all the more exciting.

Shishkin v Energumene

Shishkin: Tall gelding: won all 3 completed starts over hurdles: top-class form over fences: won all 5 starts as a novice in 2020/21, including Arkle Chase at Cheltenham (by 12 lengths from Eldorado Allen) and Maghull Novices Chase at Aintree (by 3¼ lengths from Funambule Sivola): off 8 months (had breathing operation), 4/9, maintained unbeaten record over fences in 4-runner Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton last time by 10 lengths from Greaneteen, leading 3 out and soon clear: stays 2½m: acts on soft going: often travels strongly: remains an outstanding chasing prospect.

Energumene: Useful form when winning maiden at Gowran only start over hurdles: top-class form over fences, unbeaten in 5 starts: won Ryanair Novices' Chase at Punchestown (by 16 lengths from Janidil) in April: off 7 months, 1/3, followed up in 5-runner Hilly Way Chase at Cork last time by 8½ lengths from Daly Tiger with plenty in hand after pressing on early in straight: stays 2½m: acts on heavy going: front runner, usually travels strongly: open to further improvement.


Reappearance analysis

Having signed off with Grade One novice wins at Aintree and Punchestown respectively, Shishkin and Energumene were seriously under the spotlight for their comeback runs in December, and neither disappointed.

Shishkin - reported to be carrying a bit of condition by some experienced paddock watchers and resuming after a summer breathing operation - was sent off at 4/9 for the Grade Two Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton, having missed a potential return in the top-class Tingle Creek Chase, and gave an indication as to how he might have fared that day by beating Sandown winner Greaneteen by 10 lengths (albeit in receipt of 3lb from Paul Nicholls' horse).

Energumene, by contrast, was conceding 8lb to all of his four rivals in the Grade Two Kerry Group Hill Way Chase at Cork but was also odds-on at 1/3 and ultimately score by eight and a half lengths from the 157-rated chaser Daly Tiger, who won his next start in a conditions hurdle race at Limerick on Boxing Day.

Shishkin - will come on for return

Here's what the Timeform reporters noted from their respective reappearance runs...

Shishkin: Last season's leading 2m novice chaser and having had a breathing operation since, had reportedly been off colour when missing the Tingle Creek, but there was no question about his well-being this time, his performance promising so much at the highest level in the winter ahead, briefly needing waking up as the race developed into the straight, but soon putting it to bed once he went to the front; in touch, shaken up approaching straight, led 3 out, clear soon after, well on top finish; he's already a top-class chaser, with better still to come under the right circumstances, likely to be very hard to beat wherever he goes for the rest of the season.

Energumene with Paul Townend and Willie Mullins

Energumene: Graduated to open graded company with ease after 7 months off, the way he left a race-fit Notebook gasping for air from 3 out a measure of his extraordinary power, that one having set off alongside him and then joined him again early on the final circuit before Energumene - who had jumped soundly, a minor peck 5 out his only real blemish - pressed on early in the straight and, having been in command between the last 2, crossed the line with plenty in hand over a runner-up who was grossly flattered by his proximity; he's hugely exciting, running here to a higher level than the Tingle Creek winner had 24 hours earlier.


Fighting talk

Click here for the full views from connections.

Patrick Mullins on Energumene: “Bubbles always burst eventually, we’re well used to it. Shishkin has probably achieved more – he won the Supreme Novices’ and our fellow only had one run over hurdles so he’s probably a bit behind on experience.

“They’re very hard to compare, they’ve both beaten Captain Guinness, I think the only horse that’s run against the two of them, and Shishkin beat him a little bit further.

“I think Shishkin is a little bit ahead on form at the moment, but our fellow hasn’t had the opportunity to match that so this will be his chance."

Nico de Boinville on Shishkin: "He's incredibly quick through the air and once he gets his landing gear back on to the ground, he's away. Other horses may stay longer in the air whereas he almost hurdles his fences. There's plenty more to come I'm sure."

Willie Mullins on Energumene: "It’s going to be tough for my horse having his first run for me in England. Like Shishkin he comes here unbeaten and the disadvantage for us is we’re playing an away match on a track we haven’t raced on before. But he’s in good form and hopefully it’s going to be a race to savour for whoever comes out victorious. He’s travelled over very well – we’re very happy on that front – and looking forward to the race."

Nicky Henderson, Shishkin: “We were not probably expecting to have this dust-up (with Energumene) quite so early in the year, but so be it – there we go. A ferry strike – that’s what we need! It will be interesting to say the least. If there is anything less than five lengths in it, you are going to take each other on again at Cheltenham, as there is nothing else to do. He did his last bit of work on Saturday and has just ticked over since Thankfully it’s been relatively dry this week so the ground shouldn’t be an issue, it certainly won’t be as soft as it has been in some years for this.”

Shishkin


Podcast: Great jumps battles

Patrick Mullins joins the Sporting Life Racing Podcast team to talk about the clash between Energumene and Shishkin in the SBK Clarence House Chase. Mullins also picks out the Cheltenham clash between Honeysuckle and Benie Des Dieux in the 2020 David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle as his favourite recent battle between two racing heavyweights.

David Ord, Ben Linfoot, David Johnson, Graham Cunningham and Billy Nash also share their thoughts on the Saturday showdown and look at some of the other big clashes over the years including:

  • Arkle v Mill House 1964
  • Monksfield v Sea Pigeon 1979
  • Desert Orchid v Panto Prince 1989
  • Viking Flagship v Deep Sensation 1995
  • Edredon Bleu v Direct Route 2000
  • Hardy Eustace v Harchibald 2005
  • Denman v Kauto Star 2008
Listen to the Sporting Life Racing Podcast


Video replays

SHISHKIN:

Kempton - Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase (Grade 2)

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Aintree - Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase (Grade 1)

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Cheltenham - Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase (Grade 1)

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Doncaster - Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Lightning Novices' Chase (Grade 2)

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Kempton - Ladbrokes Wayward Lad Novices' Chase (Grade 2)

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Kempton - Racing TV Beginners' Chase

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ENERGUMENE:

Cork - Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase (Grade 2)

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Punchestown - Ryanair Novice Chase (Grade 1)

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Leopardstown - Patrick Ward & Co. Solicitors Irish Arkle Novice Chase (Grade 1)

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Naas - Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase

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Gowran Park - Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase

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