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Tingle Creek Chase: Shishkin and Edwardstone among six in contention for Sandown Grade One

Shishkin will be looking to make his seasonal reappearance and get back to winning ways after defeat in the Queen Mother Champion Chase; Alan King also runs Edwardstone, although both runners could be withdrawn pending the going at the track

Image: Shishkin could return on Saturday in the Tingle Creek Chase

Both Nicky Henderson's Shishkin and the Alan King-trained Edwardstone have been declared among a field of six for Saturday's Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.

Henderson and King had voiced doubts about the suitability of the quickish ground at the Esher venue earlier in the week, however, both have at least signalled their intent.

Just after 8am on Thursday, the going on the chase course was described as good, good to soft in places with selective watering taking place throughout the week.

Image: Shishkin

Edwardstone has already missed two engagements this season because King felt the ground was too quick for his charge, while Shishkin is returning having pulled up in the Champion Chase when he was subsequently found to be suffering from a rare bone condition.

Henderson said on Thursday: "If he was well he was always going to run and I'm sure the ground is going to be all right.

"We talked to Andrew [Cooper, Sandown's clerk of the course] earlier in the week and while it's dry it's not that long since the racing was abandoned here because it was waterlogged."

"He's come to himself pretty well. I think he looks fantastic and he schooled brilliantly yesterday. Nico rode him over ten fences and he was very pleased with him.

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Image: Greaneteen made every yard as he regained the Betway Haldon Gold Cup

"They are the best two milers around, apart from Energumene, so nobody is ducking and diving and it's the way it should be. Nobody is frightened of anybody.

"I know there's a lot of confidence coming from Ditcheat [about Greaneteen], which I respect. He's a very good horse but we have to hope that the Shishkin we had at Ascot for that epic clash with Energumene in the race of the season is back. If he is then he should be highly competitive."

One horse who definitely runs is the Paul Nicholls-trained Greaneteen, last year's winner of the race and something of a Sandown specialist. He arrives having carried top weight to victory in the Haldon Gold Cup.

There is a strong Irish challenge in the shape of the Willie Mullins-trained Gentleman Du Mee, who beat Edwardstone at Aintree, and the Pat Fahy-trained Dunvegan.

Funambule Sivola leads over the last in the Game Spirit
Image: Funambule Sivola leads over the last in the Game Spirit

In-form Venetia Williams has declared Champion Chase runner-up Funambule Sivola to make his seasonal debut. Last season, the seven-year-old, who is owned by the My Racing Manager Friends syndicate, won the Game Spirit Case at Newbury before the 40-1 shot finished second to Energumene at Cheltenham.

Connections had hoped he would make his return sooner, but have been thwarted by the unseasonably dry autumn ground.

Elli Morgan, who runs the ownership syndicate, will fly back from the Caribbean to see the horse run and she said: "He totally deserves to be there, but it is a hot race.

"You have all the best two-milers in it and it will be interesting to see how it cuts up.

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"Alan King pulled Edwardstone out of the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham and then the Ascot handicap, and I was kicking myself for not entering, as he was the one we would have worried about.

"He does go well fresh and he is in really good order. I'd be happily surprised if he wins, but I would hope for a place. We'll see."

She added: "He copes with every ground, but obviously Venetia doesn't like running them on very quick ground, so if it stays like it is, he'll be OK.

"She won't risk him so early in the season, so if he runs, she'll be happy with it."

All six of Funambule Sivola's wins have come from distances between one mile and seven furlongs and two miles and a furlong, and while open to the possibility he will get further, Morgan thinks he will likely stick to his optimum trip.

Edwardstone and Tom Cannon win the Arkle Novices' Chase
Image: Edwardstone and Tom Cannon win the Arkle Novices' Chase

"I don't think there is any real reason to take him off two miles, but it is obviously quite limited, isn't it?" she added.

"Venetia will never be drawn on long-term plans, as she takes it race by race. We will see how he runs in the Tingle Creek and make a call from there.

"She hasn't ruled out two and a half miles, but he has always been his best at two (miles).

"She will kill me for saying it, but I'll take it on the chin - we have talked about the Queen Mother again. It would be churlish not to, wouldn't it? But we are a long way away from there."

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