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Clarence House Chase: Timeform preview and free Race Pass


The Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday is available as a free Race Pass, which means you can view all our premium comments and ratings.

Saturday's Clarence House Chase (15:35) at Ascot features the most keenly anticipated head-to-head of the season so far as the two best two-mile chasers in training lock horns.

Both unbeaten over fences, Shishkin (189p) and Energumene (188p) were scheduled to have their first meeting in last season’s Arkle but Energumene had to miss that clash when suffering a late setback. The pair head the betting for the Queen Mother Champion Chase which had looked like being when they would eventually clash for the first time, so it’s a welcome bonus that they’ll be taking each other on here first.

Both horses have built formidable records on each side of the Irish Sea for Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins respectively. Shishkin has won all ten of his completed starts – he fell on his debut over hurdles – while Energumene’s only defeat in eight outings came when third on his debut in a bumper.


In Energumene’s absence, Shishkin’s Arkle victory last season was the pick of his five wins as a novice, taking control of the race from three out and sauntering clear to win by twelve lengths. After missing his intended return this season in the Tingle Creek at Sandown in December when failing to please his trainer – Shishkin was later reported to have scoped badly – he reappeared instead in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton later in the month. That race left no question about his well-being as he ran right up to his best in giving a ten-length beating to the Tingle Creek winner Greaneteen, briefly needing shaking up when the race began to develop in the straight but quickly going clear once in front.

There’s no doubt this is Shishkin’s stiffest task to date but with a rival of Energumene’s calibre and a potentially good pace to stalk, these are also just the right circumstances for Shishkin to prove himself better than ever.

With Energumene being a confirmed front runner there should be no hanging around despite the small field and it’s probably in Paul Townend’s interests to make this a good test as, over fences at least, Energumene is the more confirmed stayer of the two having won over two and a half miles on his chasing debut. The pick of his four wins as a novice last season came in the Ryanair Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival where he didn’t need to come off the bridle to beat his now high-class stablemate Janidil by sixteen lengths.

Like Shishkin, Energumene impressed on his return to action last month when winning the Hilly Way Chase at Cork. Chief rival Notebook tried to make a race of it with Energumene, matching strides with him at times, but paid the penalty in the end, looking legless as he returned a tailed-off last. Notebook is the best horse Energumene has encountered so far, and while Shishkin is on another level entirely, like his main rival, it’s likely that the best of Energumene has yet to be seen.

This isn’t entirely a two-horse race, though, because last year’s winner First Flow (179) is a top-class chaser for Kim Bailey and a prolific winner in his own right. He was completing a six-timer when causing a 14/1 upset in a competitive renewal of last year’s Clarence House. Under an attacking ride from David Bass, he took on the eventual runner-up Politologue before drawing seven lengths clear of the former Queen Mother Champion Chase winner.

First Flow failed to confirm that form at both Cheltenham and Punchestown but he was right back to his best on his reappearance in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon last month. He saw out the longer trip well, while conditions were nowhere near as testing as for most of his earlier wins. He’s another who won’t want this to develop into too much of a test of speed, though by the same token taking on Energumene up front could well prejudice his own chances.

First Flow has the 'Horse For Course' Flag for his return to Ascot as does the Dan Skelton-trained outsider of the quartet Amoola Gold (165). He’s a smart handicapper who won the listed Byrne Group Handicap Chase here in October for the second year running before being touched off by Before Midnight in the Hurst Park Handicap Chase over the same course and distance. Without the cheekpieces he’s worn on his last two starts, he’ll be suited by the return to Ascot after underperforming at Cheltenham last time but, realistically, picking up any pieces is probably the best his connections can hope for.

Timeform Analyst’s Verdict:

Nicky Henderson's Shishkin faces his stiffest test yet over fences but is fancied to follow in the hoofprints of the stable's fomer winners of this Grade 1, Altior and Sprinter Sacre, and confirm himself the premier 2m chaser. Irish challenger Energumene also arrives unbeaten in this sphere and should ensure this is a race to savour, with last year's victor First Flow no forlorn hope either.

Race Passes are the ultimate form guide, providing Timeform analysis, Flags and ratings for every runner in every race in Britain and Ireland. Subscribers have access to additional features that add extra levels of insight, including complete performance histories, an extensive form archive and unlimited use of horse, jockey and trainer searches. 

Just click here to view the full card and Timeform analysis for the Clarence House Chase at Ascot. You can subscribe to Race Passes to access every race here.



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Monday 23 May
4. NAVELLO 112
Kieran Shoemark silk Kieran Shoemark
George Boughey hot trainer
Jack Mitchell silk Jack Mitchell
James Tate
Mollie Phillips silk Mollie Phillips
Tony Carroll
Go to full race


18:40 YORK

1st Sean Levey silk 5. HEREDIA 11/26.5
2nd Joe Fanning silk hd 9. ESPRESSOO 11/43.75f
3rd Neil Callan silk 2 2. DIVINE MAGIC 16/117
J: Sean Levey  
All 11 ran.

18:05 YORK

1st Callum Rodriguez silk 8. EVALUATION 15/28.5
2nd Jack Mitchell silk ½ 7. SUPER SUPERJACK 3/14f
3rd Paul Mulrennan silk 1. GEREMIA (IRE) 12/113
4th Joanna Mason silk nk 16. GHADBBAAN 11/112
All 17 ran.

17:35 YORK

1st P. J. McDonald silk 3. ASJAD 18/119
2nd Jonathan Fisher silk ½ 7. ZARGUN (GER) 16/117
3rd Jason Watson silk ½ 2. GULLIVER 25/126
4th Louis Steward silk ¾ 4. ADAAY TO REMEMBER 12/113
T: James Horton  
21 ran. NRs: 12 


1st Seamie Heffernan silk 9. KISS YOU LATER (IRE) 8/19
2nd Rossa Ryan silk 14. STAR ANGEL 13/27.5
3rd M. P. Sheehy silk sh 12. RIVER RAIN (IRE) 7/18
15 ran. NRs: 15 

17:05 YORK

1st Clifford Lee silk 10. EILEAN DUBH (IRE) 13/27.5jf
2nd Sam James silk 4. LION TOWER (IRE) 13/27.5jf
3rd David Allan silk ½ 11. DELGREY BOY 18/119
4th Jason Hart silk hd 6. EMPIRESTATEOFMIND (IRE) 14/115
J: Clifford Lee  
T: K. R. Burke  
All 20 ran.


1st Tom Scudamore silk 1. GLIMPSE OF GOLD 2/13
2nd Paddy Brennan silk 3. OSLO 8/131.61f
3 ran. NRs: 2 


1st N. M. Crosse silk 5. NECTARIS 18/119
2nd C. T. Keane silk ½ 1. JUNCTURE 5/23.5f
3rd Ben Martin Coen silk 4. MISS MIRABELL (IRE) 9/25.5
J: N. M. Crosse (3)  
8 ran. NRs: 9 

16:35 YORK

1st Sam James silk 6. SHOWTIME MAHOMES 12/113
2nd Benoit de la Sayette silk ½ 15. DEVASTE 12/113
3rd Pierre-Louis Jamin silk 5. LATIN LOVER (IRE) 17/29.5
4th P. J. McDonald silk sh 12. WESTMORIAN 18/119
J: Sam James  
T: Grant Tuer  
21 ran. NRs: 19 


1st Philip Armson silk 7. AL ROC (FR) 3/14
2nd Adam Wedge silk 21 2. PERCUSSION 2/13f
J: Philip Armson (5)  
T: David Pipe  
All 7 ran.
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