What's On This Week? Shishkin In A Mouthwatering Contest

Features | 15th February 2023

This week’s racing is jam-packed with quality and contains more stars than your average TV blockbuster

Major Drama

Forget about Happy Valley, Line Of Duty or Grantchester, the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase has more likely suspects set to line up than any of them. In Fakir D’Oudairies, Shishkin and Pic D’Orhy we have the reigning champ, the vanquished hero and an in-form pretender to the crown. Throw in Grade 1 winners First Flow and Millers Bank, as well as talented northern raider Aye Right, and we look set for some unmissable drama. 

The 2m5f chase has a history of being won by some of the greats of jump racing. One Man, Kauto Star and Cue Card all have their names on the roll of honour. The battle to join them on that illustrious list will be played out on Ascot’s magnificent course on Saturday.

Some of the country’s top novice chasers will also get the chance to shine at the Royal track. The Grade 2 Bateaux London Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase is one of the supporting races, with some competitive handicaps also in prospect.


Action Across The UK

There’s also quality jumps racing at Wincanton and Haydock on Saturday. The Grade 2 Jennings Bet Kingwell Hurdle is the feature race at Wincanton, where Knappers Hill tops the entries for champion trainer Paul Nicholls. 

The opposition could include Fidelio Vallis. He is trained by Nicholls’ nephew and former assistant Harry Derham. Last week’s Betfair Hurdle hero Aucunrisque has also been entered, along with First Street and I Like To Move It.

From Wincanton’s crack two-mile hurdlers we move to the Grand National hopefuls on display at Haydock. The Merseyside track hosts a superb card, with plenty of Cheltenham Festival contenders also putting their credentials to the test. The Betfred Grand National Trial has attracted an impressive list of entries. They are headed by course specialist Bristol De Mai. Welsh National hero The Two Amigos and popular mare Snow Leopardess could also be set to line up. There are also three staying hurdle races providing Cheltenham pointers. The Grade 2 Betfred Rendlesham Hurdle, the Albert Bartlett Prestige Novices’ Hurdle and the Pertemps Hurdle Series Qualifier all contain horses with Festival aspirations.

Midweek Heroes

It’s not all about the weekend. On Thursday, Sandown stages the historic Castel Royal Artillery Gold Cup. The race – first run in 1863 – is open to riders that are serving or past members of the British Armed Services. Captain Guy Disney won the Royal Artillery Gold Cup on Rathlin Rose in 2017 and 2018 despite riding with a prosthetic limb. His lower leg had been amputated following a rocket-propelled grenade attack while serving in Afghanistan. Last year’s winner Rolling Dylan is among the entries again this time.