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The Week Ahead
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The week ahead: Ascot Chase date likely for Shishkin

As we hurtle through February, the Cheltenham Festival trials are soon going to become scarce, but this Saturday is a big day in the career of Shishkin as he steps up in trip at Ascot.

Nicky Henderson's charge was the doyen of the two-mile chasing division this time last year, but now finds himself under a dark cloud and desperately needing to resurrect his career as he faces defending champ Fakir D'oudairies in Saturday's Grade 1 Ascot Chase.

We look ahead to that and the rest of the highlights over the next seven days, with a reminder that all the UK and Irish racing action can be followed on our Sports Live Streaming platform.

Monday 13th February

Just three UK meetings kick-start the new racing week and they come along at Plumpton and Catterick over jumps in the afternoon, before an evening of all-weather action at Wolverhampton.

Trainer Chris Gordon is in fine fettle right now, boasting a 40 per cent strike-rate and a return to level stakes of £29 from this last 15 starters in the wake of Aucunrisque landing Saturday's Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. The Winchester-based handler trails only Gary Moore (49) with his tally of 48 Plumpton winners across the last five seasons.

Huntingdon bumper scorer Diamond Egg makes his hurdling bow for Gordon in the Strong Flavours Catering Maiden Hurdle (2.30), while Lord Baddesley will be aiming to land a second course win of the season in the hands of Tom Cannon in the Tie The Knot Wedding Catering Novices' Handicap Chase (3.00) half an hour later.

Tuesday 14th February

Jumps racing on Tuesday comes from Lingfield and Ayr, alongside evening all-weather action at Newcastle.

Will there be love in Scottish air for the Valentine's Day Conditional Jockeys' Mares' Handicap Hurdle (1.45) that opens the card at Ayr?

Phil Kirby's Lone Star was a winner at Newcastle on Boxing Day over this sort of trip and found just one too good recently at Market Rasen, form that was franked by the David Pipe-trained winner scoring again at Uttoxeter on Saturday.

From an unchanged mark of 92, Joe Williamson and Lone Star could be set to find that magic spark and make it two wins from their three racecourse appearances together.

Wednesday 15th February

National Hunt fare this midweek takes place at Hereford and Wetherby, while there's Polytrack racing from both Dundalk and Kempton (evening).

At Wetherby, their Novices' Chase (2.10) over 2m5½f could be a useful contest as Donald McCain's Since Day One - who claimed the scalp of Tommy's Oscar impressively on his penultimate start at Newcastle - is in line to face Sam England's unbeaten chaser Kinondo Kwetu, winner of all five starts in this sphere from July-October and now up to an official mark of 137.

The feature at the Yorkshire layout is the Frank Dawn 90th Birthday Celebration Handicap Hurdle (3.15) and the likes of Milkwood, Up For Parol, Barrichello and Impulsive One could all be contenders for that Class 2 contest.

Thursday 16th February

A busier day lies ahead on Thursday with five UK and Irish meetings scheduled. Jumps fare is from Newcastle, Sandown, Leicester and Clonmel on a hectic afternoon, while Chelmsford City will round proceedings off with their all-weather card in the evening.

Sandown will be the main focus of attention as they stage both the Grade 2 Jane Seymour Mares' Novices' Hurdle (2.25) and the always popular Royal Artillery Gold Cup (3.00) for Military Amateur Jockeys.

Rolling Dylan won the race last season under Major Charlie O'Shea for trainer Philip Hobbs and could be back to defend his crown for a trainer still sure to be on a high after Zanza's win in the Denman Chase at Newbury on Saturday gave him the 3,000th winner of his training career.

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Friday 17th February

On towards the weekend and there are five more meetings on Friday to feast upon.

The jumps racing comes from Fakenham and Kelso alongside all-weather action from Lingfield in the afternoon, while the Friday Night Lights will be on at Southwell and Dundalk.

Up north at Kelso, the Novices' Limited Handicap Chase (4.00) over just shy of three miles features some promising entries.

Micky Hammond's Not What It Seems took a bronze medal back from Wetherby on Boxing Day on his first outing over fences and has scope for better, while Dan Skelton and Jamie Snowden could send out previous winners Sholokjack and Super Survivor respectively.

Saturday 18th February

The Grade 1 Ascot Chase (3.35) will be the star attraction come Saturday and it is the centrepiece on a good card at the Berkshire venue.

Joseph O'Brien's Fakir D'oudairies won this contest a year ago and is something of a specialist at the intermediate distance. He's 7/4 to retain his crown and the most intriguing of his possible opponents is 5/2 chance Shishkin for Nicky Henderson.

His fall from grace has been spectacular, despite the fact it took place in just two runs.

He's just nine years old and a veteran of a mere 14 starts under Rules, so connections will be hopeful that this step up in trip can revive their charge back at the scene of perhaps his greatest effort, last year's Clarence House win over Energumene.

At Wincanton it is Kingwell Hurdle Day on Saturday, while Haydock stages their Grand National Trial where 5/1 chance Bristol De Mai may seek to continue his love affair with the Merseyside venue.

There's all-weather racing from Lingfield and Newcastle too, while in Ireland Gowran Park host their Red Mills Trial Day featuring a pair of graded contests.

Sunday 19th February

It's National Hunt racing all the way on Sunday, with Newbury and Musselburgh in Britain joined by action from Punchestown in Ireland.

The Co. Kildare venue boasts both the Listed Apple's Jade Mares Novice Hurdle and their Grand National Trial on the afternoon.

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