Published On: Wed, Mar 13th, 2024

Nicky Henderson withdraws two more star horses from Cheltenham Festival as issues mount | Racing | Sport

Problems are continuing to mount at Seven Barrows, with Shishkin not declared to run in the Gold Cup on Friday. Trainer Nicky Henderson announced on Wednesday that he was withdrawing three of his horses on day two due to issues in his stable, and those problems are showing no signs of slowing for the rest of the week.

Henderson’s stable were struggling for form in the weeks prior to the Cheltenham Festival, with Constitution Hill’s withdrawal from the Champion Hurdle – since won by State Man – highlighting the severity of the problems behind the scenes.

The esteemed trainer has remained transparent with punters throughout the ordeal, and the 73-year-old has now revealed that two of his top talents, Shishkin and Champ, will not feature at Cheltenham later this week after being scoped.

In a statement on X, Henderson announced: “Very sadly it will not be possible for Shishkin to run in the Gold Cup on Friday. He was scoped, as have all out potential runners this week, but unfortunately he has shown an unsatisfactory picture on which he couldn’t possibly run.

“He appears to be 100% in himself and has been working and schooling better than ever and we really were looking forward to Friday. It is hoped that along with all the other non-participants this week that they will be back in time for Aintree or Punchestown.

“Regrettably Champ has also succumbed and will not run in tomorrow’s Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle and the equivalent race at Aintree could be on the agenda.”

Shishkin was fancied to go well in the Gold Cup after his promising run in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day when he unseated Nico de Boinville two-out when challenging. The gelding then made amends in the Denman Chase, and connections will be hoping that their talented nine-year can take to the track in one of the other coveted festivals later this season.

Henderson has three horses set to take the track at Cheltenham on Wednesday – Jingko Blue, Doddiethegreat and Lucky Place – and he will be hoping that they will perform with credit to suggest that some of his string can make their mark on the Festival. Ante-post punters will be hoping that Sir Gino lines up in the Triumph Hurdle on Friday as well, having been a strong favourite for the race after his demolition job in the trial in January. The gelding has been declared.

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