Cheltenham Festival hero Shishkin is expected to head to Aintree’s Randox Grand National Festival next month.
The Nicky Henderson -trained seven-year-old eased home by 12 lengths in the Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase.
He is due to be joined on Merseyside by stablemate Chantry House, who also claimed a top-level victory in the Marsh Novices’ Chase.
Runner-up Fusil Raffles is also pencilled in for Aintree, but Epatante is set to renew rivalry with her Cheltenham conqueror Honeysuckle at Punchestown.
“I’m hoping Shishkin, Chantry house and Fusil Raffles will all be going to Aintree – that is the plan,” the Seven Barrows trainer told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.
“Epatante was probably slightly disappointing – I think she ought to have finished second, but she wouldn’t have beaten Honeysuckle in a million years.
“We’re probably going to go to Punchestown and give it another go.”
Henderson’s runners in the Cheltenham Gold Cup proved disappointing, with Champ never jumping and pulled up before the seventh fence, while Santini’s rider called it a day after the 12th.
Henderson explained that Champ was suffering from a “physical issue” and the first-time visor did not suit Santini.
“Champ, almost certainly, we know where the problem is – it’s in his back and he’ll be returning to Ireland as soon as possible for a bone scan,” Henderson said.
“He has had back surgery before in the past and it almost certainly wants re-examining, so that’s all been put in place.
“Santini schooled very well in the visor, but I have to say, in the race, he just didn’t face it.
“Some horses don’t, but you can’t tell at home – he didn’t like it, he’d schooled well and we thought it would make a big difference.”