Ascot Racecourse was filled with shock and surprise on Saturday as one of the UK's top horses, Shishkin, dramatically refused to compete in the Nirvana Spa 1965 Chase.
Pre-Race Favourite Backs Out
With odds in his favor, Shishkin appeared uneasy just moments before the race began. As the three other runners took off, it became clear that Shishkin was not going to start.
A Quirky Character
Shishkin's refusal to race was not entirely unexpected, according to ITV Racing pundit Mick Fitzgerald. The horse has displayed similar behavior in the past, particularly at the Cheltenham Festival.
Rivalry with Pic D'Orhy
The Grade 2 contest was highly anticipated due to the rivalry between Shishkin and Pic D'Orhy, stemming from their battle at the Ascot Chase in February. Shishkin emerged victorious on that occasion, winning by an impressive 16 lengths.
Rival Seizes the Opportunity
With Shishkin out of the race, Pic D'Orhy, ridden by Harry Cobden, took advantage of the situation. Despite not performing at his best, Pic D'Orhy managed to overcome Straw Fan Jack and claim victory.
After the race, Cobden expressed how the absence of the favorite made his job easier, stating that as a jockey, he had to be tactical when facing an odds-on favorite. He also mentioned that Pic D'Orhy didn't travel well and didn't jump as smoothly as usual, but still managed to get the job done.