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Clarence House Chase 2022 Preview

In recent year’s it’s usually Cheltenham that hosts the top clashes of the national hunt season but jumps racing fans are in for an extra treat this weekend as Shishkin and Energumene do battle in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot.

An irresistible force takes on an immovable object, with both horses putting their unbeaten record over fences on the line in what could be one of the races of the season. They were all set to clash in last year’s Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival before injury ruled out Energumene, and Cheltenham’s loss is very much Ascot’s gain. And with First Flow and Amoola Gold also lining up, we’ve taken a closer look at all four runners for this weekend’s big match-up.

 

Clarence House Chase Preview

 

Shishkin

Trained by Nicky Henderson, Shishkin was last season’s leading 2m novice chaser, building on his high-class hurdles career that saw him win the Supreme Novices’ at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.

More Festival success came in 2021 with victory in the Arkle, followed up with another Grade 1 success in the Maghull Novices’ Chase at the Grand National meeting at Aintree. He returned this season on the back of having had a breathing operation and missed his intended target of the Tingle Creek due to a slight setback.

Still, he maintained his unbeaten chase record with an impressive victory in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton at Christmas. Quick over his fences and between them, he’s yet to be taken out of his comfort zone, and it will be interesting to see how he copes with a horse of Energumene’s undoubted ability.

Expect Nico de Boinville to stalk Energumene and aim to pounce as they head up the Ascot straight in a Clarence House Chase that could turn into an almighty battle.

 

 

Energumene

Representing Ireland and trainer Wille Mullins, Energumene is a perfect five from five over fences, including Grade 1 success in the Irish Arkle at the Dublin Racing Festival last year and in the Novice Chase at Punchestown.

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He made a winning seasonal reappearance in the Grade 2 Hilly Way at Cork at the start of December, destroying a field that included the Grade 1 winning Notebook. Timeform rates him just 1lb lower than Shishkin, and a right-handed track such as Ascot should play to his strengths.

Paul Townend is likely to try and make all from the front under Energumene and grind Shishkin down, and if he holds a length or two lead turning for home, the battle could well and truly be on. With little to split Energumene and Shishkin, the value bet looks to be on the Irish raider to take this one at 7/4 – just.

 

First Flow

First Flow landed the Clarence House Chase last season – the highlight of a six-race winning run, and he’s back to defend his title this year.

Success here was followed by failure in the Champion Chase, where he was a disappointing 6th behind Put The Kettle On, and he was then a distant last in the Champion Chase at Punchestown behind Chacun Pour Soi.

He made a winning return to action at Huntingdon at the start of December, running out a comfortable winner of the Peterborough Chase. A two-time course and distance winner connections feel he’s likely to come up just short against Shishkin and Energumene, but he’s the defending champion and deserves his place in the field.

 

Amoola Gold

Trained by Dan Skelton, Amoola Gold is also a two-time course and distance winner – landing a Listed contest twice under Bridget Andrews in 2020 and 2021.

Last seen when down the field in a chase at Cheltenham in December, he has 20lbs to find on the top two in the betting in this contest, and it would be a massive shock if he were to go anywhere close to winning the 2022 Clarence House Chase.

 


 

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