NICKY HENDERSON has slammed his critics as he readies top chaser Shishkin for the new season.
The six-time champion trainer has taken plenty of flak from pundits and fans alike for some of his decisions in recent years.
Just over a week before last season’s Tingle Creek at Sandown, he ruled Shishkin out of the race and ran him in a weaker race at Kempton.
He came under serious fire on that occasion having also been heavily criticised for his campaigning of Altior in previous years.
The multiple Grade 1 winner Shishkin is on the comeback trail this winter having flopped in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
Henderson, 71, revealed the horse was suffering from a rare bone issue after the race.
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He has been working back to full-fitness and could return in the Tingle Creek in early December.
But Henderson blamed ‘moaning minnies’ after he refused to commit to a return date for his star chaser.
Henderson said: “Things are good, touch wood. He looks great and we have hopefully got him over his issues.
“We would still be thinking about the Tingle Creek but I won’t say we will for definite because if we can’t get him ready the same old thing will happen, the moaning minnies out there will say I’m frightened.
“If we can’t get him there we will go last year’s route of Kempton and the Clarence House before Cheltenham.
“He hasn’t done anything too fast yet but we have quite a bit of time.”
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Whether or not Shishkin returns at Sandown, Henderson’s long-term aim is to have another crack at reigning champion chaser Energumene.
Shishkin came out on top after and epic duel between the pair at Ascot in January, before he bombed out at the Festival.
Henderson continued: “He had a tough race against Energumene at Ascot, but hopefully he is back and we can look forward to rounds three and four.
“It was fairly obvious from the word go something was wrong at Cheltenham and he was in a bit of a mess the next day.
“We aren’t considering a step up in trip. I have no doubt he could get two and a half, but in these strongly-run two mile races you need stamina.
“We just want a nice clean run with him.”
Shishkin is 2-1 for the Betfair Tingle Creek with the sponsors, with Energumene the 6-4 favourite.
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