Behind every champion on the racecourse is a devoted lad or lass toiling away behind the scenes and Jaydon Lee (pictured above leading) is currently the envy of the racing world as he is responsible for looking after the superstar two-mile chaser Shishkin.
The epic winner of the SBK Clarence House Chase at Ascot is now Cheltenham Festival-bound for the Champion Chase, where he bids to follow up on his Festival successes in the Supreme Novices Hurdle and last year’s Arkle.
We went behind the stable door at Nicky Henderson’s Seven Barrows stables to find out a bit more about eight-year-old Shishkin from Jaydon himself.
“He’s one of those horses who never has a bad day,” says Jaydon. “He loves to see you – except in the morning when you wake him up early, he doesn’t really want to know you then – but he just goes about his day quietly and does it well.
“Some of us like to call him Shish-King at home and he likes all the attention. If there’s ever hay outside his door on the morning of his race, we know we’re in business and it’s going to be a good day, whereas the morning after there’ll be nothing left on the floor, he eats it all.
“At the races he knows where he is and has a job to do, so he likes to have a look around, but he’s quite laid-back after that.”
Shishkin winning the Clarence House at Ascot
“He’s just so good, everything he does is great,” says Jaydon of the Grade One race (below) where he beat the Willie Mullins star Energumene. “Shishkin just showed how gutsy he is.”
Shishkin landing the Supreme Novices Hurdle in 2020
“It was my first Cheltenham winner and even more special because he won it in a battle,” says Jaydon. “I had no idea what was happening or what to do – there were just crowds and photographers everywhere and I had a million things going round in my head. I used to be one of those people who couldn’t watch the races, but, now I know he can jump fences, I’m OK.”
“This is my third year at Nicky’s. I don’t have a horsey background, I just got hooked on racing from watching it on Saturdays with my grandad,” he reveals. “I went to Warwick racecourse one day and knew what I wanted to do from there.”
As well as Shishkin, Jaydon also has the exciting Constitution Hill among his charges — “There are exciting days to come hopefully,” he says.
“The best part of the job is that you can travel anywhere, there are lots of opportunities and great people you meet, but the horses are the main reason. I’m very lucky,” he concludes.
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