Henderson expecting another “big fight” between Shishkin and Energumene; Skelton sweet on Protektorat

Nicky Henderson warned that Shishkin won’t have it all his own way when he reopposes Energumene in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, suggesting it will be closer than the betting suggests.

Speaking at the Weatherbys Racing Bank Cheltenham Preview Night, the master of Seven Barrows stressed: “He’s in good shape and going left-handed will be to our advantage, but there was very little in it [at Ascot].

“We looked in trouble, and we got out of trouble. We’re odds on but it doesn’t look that way to me; it’s going to be another big fight.”

Dan Skelton joined his fellow trainer on the panel, and he hopes Nube Negra can go one better than the close second in the race 12 months ago: “The betting discounts us a little bit, but we are okay with that. We are happy with our horse; he goes well at the course, and I have no excuses at this stage.

“It’s vital that he’s fresh and the less rain, the better his chances are of getting close to these two rockets in front. I don’t believe there are too many faster than him.”

The Boodles Gold Cup

Both trainers will also lock horns in the showpiece event of the meeting, the Boodles Gold Cup. Protektorat is currently the shortest priced domestic challenger, and he will represent the Skelton stable, while Henderson saddles last year’s Marsh Novices’ Chase winner, Chantry House.

Despite Protektorat facing the longest trip of his career, Skelton doesn’t have any concerns and nominated the seven-year-old as his best chance of the week: “I don’t really have any stamina doubts; he was very good at Aintree [over 3m1f] – the further he went, the better he went.”

He added: “He’s fresh, which is very important. He’ll go there with a full tank, and I think he’s the type of horse that will just keep going, which is what you need. I have no real negatives.”

Watch the recording

Jane Mangan, former jockey and Irish racing expert, joined Paul Ferguson, author of Jumpers To Follow and the Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide, to complete the panel. While ITV’s Racing lead commentator, Richard Hoiles, expertly hosted proceedings.

To get the lowdown on Nicky and Dan’s other Cheltenham runners, plus expert insight from Jane, Paul and Richard, you can watch a full recording of the Weatherbys Racing Bank Cheltenham Preview below.