Clarence House Chase 2022 Runners Guide & Tips: Shishkin and Energumene set for epic duel at Ascot
It's set to be one of the biggest clashes in recent times away from the Cheltenham Festival, as superstar chasers Shishkin and Energumene lock horns in Saturday's Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot. We take a look at all four runners taking their chance in the prestigious race, and predict what the outcome will be...
1. Amoola Gold - H Skelton - D Skelton
Chase Runs: 14
Chase Wins: 4
Notable Race Wins: Byrne Group Handicap Chase (LIsted) - Ascot
Dan Skelton's Amoola Gold looks to have his work cut out in the Clarence House Chase, but with nearly £8k available for finishing in fourth position in the Clarence House Chase then providing he can put in a clear round of jumping then he can still bag a tidy purse for his exertions. A Listed winner of the Byrne Group Handicap Chase at Ascot earlier in the season, Amoola Gold will enjoy a return to the Berkshire track, as he was last seen failing to land a blow in a Cheltenham handicap chase.
However, on all form he appears to face a gargantuan task to get near the fancied contenders in this event, and while it's nice to see another challenger adding a different angle to the event, Skelton's charge is destined for a spot in the minor places.
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2. Energumene - P Townend - W Mullins
Chase Runs: 5
Chase Wins: 5
Notable Race Wins: Irish Arkle Novice Chase (Grade 1), Ryanair Novice Chase (Grade 1), Hilly Way Chase (Grade 2)
Ireland's premier two-mile chaser, Energumene is set to make his first trip to British shores on Saturday, and the unbeaten Willie Mullins-trained speedball will be attempting to make it six wins from six over fences in what is a mouth-watering Clarence House Chase. A first-class novice chaser last season, the eight-year-old rocketed to a 10-length win in the Grade 1 Irish Arkle Novice Chase before following that up with a 16-length romp in the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival.
A front-running slick performer, Energumene made a winning start to this campaign with a facile win in the Hilly Way Chase, but now faces his toughest test to date against the multiple Grade 1 winner Shishkin. Sure to be sent to the front by Paul Townend from the flag fall, Energumene will certainly set a fierce gallop, and if he can maintain it for the whole two miles then he is sure to be a leading challenger for a third Grade 1 success over the larger obstacles.
3. First Flow - D Bass - K Bailey
Chase Runs: 14
Chase Wins: 8
Notable Race Wins: Clarence House Chase (Grade 1), Peterborough Chase (Grade 2)
Kim Bailey's First Flow has the most chasing experience of the entire field, and in fact he lines up as the reigning champion, as he produced a phenomenal career best to win the Clarence House Chase in 2021, as he beat the former Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Politologue by seven lengths. He failed to follow that up when finishing sixth behind Put The Kettle On in the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, but he showed he's in red-hot form with a fine win in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon.
That Peterborough success came over 2m 4f, so he's one that will certainly want Energumene to set a fierce gallop, as he has not only shown tremendous speed when winning this race last season, but with great stamina as well then he could well be a significant fly in the ointment of the two leading fancies in this race. The ten-year-old has shown that on his day he's most certainly in the upper echelons of the chasing world, so if the Bailey raider can turn up and deliver his A game then he's no forlorn hope.
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4. Shishkin - N De Boinville - N Henderson
Chase Runs: 6
Chase Wins: 6
Notable Race Wins: Wayward Lad Novices' Chase (Grade 2), Lightning Novices' Chase (Grade 2), Arkle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1), Maghull Novices' Chase (Grade 1), Desert Orchid Chase (Grade 2)
Dual Cheltenham Festival winner Shishkin is the flagbearer for the British racing scene, and Nicky Henderson's superstar eight-year-old will line up as the red-hot favourite for the Saturday's Clarence House Chase, as he looks to make it a magnificent seventh win from seven chases. The 2020 Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner followed up 12 months later at the festival with an authoritative victory in the Arkle Challenge Trophy, and with all roads leading to the Champion Chase in March, the Seven Barrows raider will hope to win this contest en route.
He showed the fire still burns bright on his comeback run, as he launched to a fine 10-length victory over Tingle Creek winner Greaneteen in the Desert Orchid Chase, and with Henderson sure to bring him on for that Kempton success then he's going to be a tough contender to beat. Nico De Boinville is likely to adopt patient tactics on board his star performer, and with Energumene setting a fierce gallop, he will be eager to try and challenge turning for home. With a fine jumping style, and a sensational engine, Shishkin is the hottest property in the two-mile division, and he will be eager to show his dominance yet again.
National Hunt fans will be counting down the hours on Saturday afternoon to see the epic clash between Shishkin and Energumene, and the pair are set to serve up a thriller. Adding in the reigning Clarence House Chase hero First Flow, this contest has all the makings of an absolutely rip-snorting showpiece. Likely to hit the front from the off, Energumene will attempt to get Shishkin out of his comfort zone, and the Henderson raider could well hit a flat spot at some point. However, if Nico De Boinville can maintain a shortish gap through the middle of the race then Shishkin can duly cruise upsides as they turn for home, and he can kick clear between the final two fences.
If Energumene does set too fierce a gallop then that could leave the door open to the strong-staying First Flow to pick up the pieces, and it would be no surprise to see him just edge past Energumene in the final furlong, so it can duly be a British one-two.
- First Flow