We’ve become accustom to big clashes being saved for Cheltenham. The Festival, for many, is the be-all and end-all of jump’s racing, and it’s where the best of the best lock horns for the sports biggest prizes. That’s why, when a clash like this comes around before March, it needs to be savoured and appreciated.
Shishkin and Energumene were the best novice chasers on either side of the Irish Sea last season and we were expecting them to do battle in the Champion Chase in March; not in our wildest dreams did we expect it to come so soon. The Clarence House will be the battleground, a race won by multiple Champion Chase winners.
Trends can be a crucial tool in identifying winners of big races and I’m going to use them to see if we can split these two incredible horses.
All of the last twelve winners of the Clarence House had run at least six times over fences. Energumene is a perfect five out of five over fences, but unfortunately for him, Shishkin is a flawless six out of six. As a result, Shishkin moves on by a length.
Shishkin 1-0 Energumene
Older horses don’t tend to win the Clarence House, with Un De Sceaux in 2018 being the sole winner of the race over the age of nine. Both Shishkin and Energumene are aged eight, so Shishkin maintains his narrow lead.
Shishkin 2-1 Energuemene
A recent run is crucial, with nine of the last 12 winners having ran in the prior 40 days. Shishkin last ran 26 days ago in the Desert Orchid, while Energumene was last seen winning the Hilly Way at Cork 48 days ago. Energumene isn’t far outside the trend, but with a big jump, Shishkin moves on by two.
Shishkin 3-1 Energuemene
The Clarence House is a race that favourites have excelled at in recent years. Twist Magic, Master Minded, Sprinter Sacre, Sire De Grugy, Un De Sceaux (x3) and Altior have been successful with the favourites tag in the last twelve renewals. With Nico De Boinville in the drive, Shishkin flies over the last and wins the Clarence House by three!
Shishkin 4-1 Energumene
Shishkin: Tracked leader, made challenge and led narrowly 4 out, went into clear lead after 3 out, 2 lengths clear when good jump last, kept on strongly run-in
Energumene: Led, headed and chased leader 4 out, ridden 3 out, outpaced in 3-length 2nd when out-jumped last, kept on but held
The trends point towards Shishkin, a dual Grade 1 winner as a novice who made a flawless return to action at Kempton in the Desert Orchid. The apple of Nicky Henderson’s eye, there seems to be no chinks in his armour and with Seven Barrows firing on all cylinders, it’s no surprise to see him as the favourite.
This year’s Clarence House is sponsored by SBK and you can get get up to £50 money back in cash when you sign up. The offer starts today (Thursday 20th at 5pm) and concludes on Monday (24th at 5pm).
If you back any of our selections you can watch them live on the free Racing Post app or racingpost.com. Simply log in to one of your bookmaker accounts and click ‘Watch live’ on the racecards.