At the end of the 2020/21 National Hunt season, Shishkin was the highest-rated novice chaser in the country, according to Timeform. Owned by Joe and Marie Donnelly and trained by Nicky Henderson, the seven-year-old won all five starts over fences in 2020/21, including the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival, and is currently favourite for the 2022 Queen Mother Champion Chase.
In September, 2021, shortly after announcing the retirement of his former stable star, Altior, Henderson was keen to make it known that Shishkin had undergone a minor wind operation. A routine examination of his upper respiratory tract – performed with a device called an endoscope and therefore known, colloquially, as ‘scoping’ – revealed that Shishkin might need a wind operation at some point. So, rather than interrupt his training programme once the season was underway, connections chose to schedule surgery sooner rather than later.
Explaining the rationale behind the ‘safety first’ approach, Henderson said, ‘You don’t want to run in the Tingle Creek [his intended target for Shishkin’s seasonal reappearance, at Sandown in December] and find that there was a problem and stop and start again.’ Nevertheless, he played down the procedure, describing it as ‘nothing out of the ordinary’ and added that Shiskin had done ‘phenomenally well’, physically, over the summer.