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De Boinville heads to Doncaster for Shishkin ride with Trials Day on "50-50" to go-ahead

  • Nico De Boinville will travel to Doncaster on Saturday to ride Shishkin in the Lightning Novices' Chase
  • Shishkin is currently odds-on to win the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival
  • Aidan Coleman gets the ride on Santini in the Cotswold Chase
  • Cheltenham's card may be cancelled as parts of the track remain waterlogged
Nico de Boinville riding Shishkin clear the last to win The Ladbrokes Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Kempton Park Racecourse. (Getty)

Nico De Boinville will not be making the trip to Cheltenham for Trials Day this Saturday. Instead, Nicky Henderson's retained rider will partner Shishkin in the Lightning Novices' Chase at Doncaster.

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Having swept his rivals aside twice at Kempton, last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner is already odds-on to win the 2021 Arkle Challenge Trophy. Shishkin will face Eldorado Allen and Cheddleton at Doncaster, but Nicky Henderson is confident his Cheltenham Festival favourite will maintain his unbeaten record.

"He's a very straightforward horse and I'm hoping he's straightforward enough to cope with what is probably going to be very messy ground." Henderson said on Thursday. 

"He's has been in soft ground before. He jumped five fences the other day and was very good and Nico was happy."

"This seems the sensible place to be going. There are only two races you can run him in between now and the Arkle - the Kingmaker at Warwick is the alternative, but it's the same day as we would like to be running Altior at Newbury, so I don't really want them to be in two different places at the same time."

"Shishkin is a genuine two-miler, so this should be a good place to be, even if it's a bit wet."

cotswold chase
Santini (right) and Bristol De Mai jumping the last in the 2020 Cotswold Chase. (Getty)

With Nico De Boinville in Doncaster, Aidan Coleman has picked up the ride on Santini in the Cotswold Chase. Henderson's charge beat Bristol De Mai here 12 months ago, before going on to finish second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Santini has, however, endured an underwhelming start to the season, losing to Lake View Lad at Aintree before finishing fifth in the King George. The bookies have Bristol De Mai as the favourite to win on Saturday, and Henderson played down Santini's chance if the ground came up heavy.

"Our feeling, even at the beginning of the week, was if it was heavy ground we'd have to think again." Henderson revealed.

"It is a trial and it's very important with him that he enjoys it. He loves work and loves jumping and loves racing, but I don't want to take that away from him by giving him a very tough race in really heavy ground - I want to find a race that he's actually going to enjoy."

Heavy ground may be the best trainers can hope for at Cheltenham this weekend. After an unexpected amount of rain, parts of the track remain waterlogged, and if the meeting goes ahead, certain fences will need to be bypassed to avoid the worst of the ground.

"We're 50-50 (On whether the meeting goes ahead) I'd say at this stage." Said Simon Claisse, clerk of the course at Cheltenham.

"it's still raining so that's why we've planned the inspection until after the forecast rain."

A 2pm inspection has been called today, after which organisers will determine whether the track at Cheltenham is raceable. However, with more rain forecast in Gloucestershire overnight, the chances of tomorrow's meeting going ahead seem exceedingly slim.

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