If he starts and if he finishes, he is very likely to win this race. He was 1.33 shot when he freakishly stumbled on landing after the second last in the King George.

That is to say a highly lucrative and sharp Betfair market gave him a 77% chance of winning traditionally one of the best Grade 1 chases of the season.

This is no King George. This is Protektorat, rated 8lb Shishkin’s inferior, and coming off a grueller at Lingfield just 20 days ago. This is Hitman, Does He Know and Sam Brown, who all have a stone and a half to find with the favourite.

So surely this is a good thing?

It should be – but he has got to start the race, and who knows that only Shishkin himself, and I doubt he is harbouring much thought about it now. I’m not one for horse psychology, but I think it’s a fair assumption to make that it’ll be how Shishkin feels there and then, with what is around him.

What we could assume is that the other jockeys will be doing little to help out the returning Nico de Boinville. All is fair in love and war. If Shishkin does indeed start, what price is he then? 1/3 or indeed shorter.

Betfair Hurdle

In sharp contrast, the Betfair Hurdle resembles a wildly different complexion for punters. This traditional handicap has a maximum field of 25, three of which represent the red hot Willie Mullins team, two of which run in the colours of Paul Byrne.

Ocastle Des Mottes is a dual winner in France and carries the double green colours on his debut for Willie Mullins. He looks dangerous and has been made favourite, but, intriguingly, his trainer has yet to crack this puzzle.

He has gone close on two occasions, Ciel De Neige just touched off by Pic D’Orhy in 2020 and Bleu Et Rouge was second to Kalashnikov in 2018, but the majority of his other runners have been well beaten in Newbury.

In contrast, Gary Moore targets this race very well. Since 2007, he has sent out three winners and five placers from just 17 runners. He runs two horses today – Spirit D’Aunou, the Sandown winner who ticks plenty of trends as an improving five-year-old, and Yorksea, a talented sort on his day, but who has been behaving all Shishkin lately, refusing to race the last twice.