Doncaster winners to watch at the Cheltenham Festival

The anticipation continues to build with just under a week until the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 9:35 am
Nico de Boinville riding Shishkin. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Four days of top-class National Hunt racing featuring the likes of Envoi Allen, Al Boum Photo and Shishkin will light up another week in lockdown with the action live on ITV Racing.

Doncaster Racecourse stages a number of trial races for the Cheltenham Festival throughout the season. These contests have gone on to provide punters with important clues at Prestbury Park in recent years and we’ve highlighted a number of Doncaster winners from this term who look set to play leading roles at Prestbury Park next week.

Shishkin – Arkle Novices’ Chase

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One of the class acts at next week’s Cheltenham Festival. Bought for £170,000 Shishkin lit up the sport last season when backing up Listed success at Huntingdon with victory in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. The seven-year-old overcame trouble in running to deny Abacadabras by a head, cementing his position as one of the outstanding novice hurdlers of his generation.

Sent chasing by Nicky Henderson this term, Shishkin recorded an easy success on chasing debut at Kempton, before backing up that win with victory in Graded company at Kempton over the Festive period.

Shishkin went on to light up Town Moor with success in the Grade Two Lightning Novices’ Chase on his latest start by eight and a half-lengths under regular pilot Nico de Boinville. Recent winners of the Doncaster contest include Mister Fisher and Sceau Royal. However, Shishkin looks a cut above that roll of honour and is the 10/11 favourite for the Arkle.

His main rival is Energumene who is unbeaten in his last five starts for Willie Mullins. He has looked electric in three starts over fences and bolted up by 10 lengths in a Grade One contest at Leopardstown at the Dublin Racing Festival in February. Throw into the mix Allmankind, a Grade One scorer earlier this term for Dan Skelton and this race promises to be one of the highlights of this year’s meeting.

Annie Mc – Mares’ Chase

Trained by Jonjo O’Neill, the progressive Annie Mc is an 8/1 for the new Mares’ Chase at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. Love Island star Chris Hughes is involved in the ownership of Annie Mc who has taken her form to a new level this term.

A creditable fifth in a competitive handicap at Cheltenham in December, the seven-year-old created a striking impression when scoring by 16 lengths in the Yorkshire Silver Mares’ Chase on Town Moor over the Festive period.

She has since gone to capture a Listed event at Warwick which has put her firmly in the picture for this event.

Her Indoors – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

Trained by Alan King, Her Indoors captured the Listed Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster in January when recording a decisive five and a half-length success under Adrian Heskin.

She is a general 20/1 chance for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, but is capable of further progress and could be an interesting each-way player.

Bushypark – Pertemps Network Final

A fascinating runner given his upward progression this term. A winner off a mark of 83 at Hexham in November, Phil Kirby’s charge has won five of his six starts this season, which included victory at Doncaster in December off 105.

The seven-year-old has since gone on to impressively capture a competitive handicap at Haydock in February and now looks a dark horse for the ultra-competitive Pertemps Network Final, for which he is a general 20/1 shot. A proven stayer over the trip, he will need to step up again, but is capable of further improvement.

Analysis via Betting Expert