Nicky Henderson opted not to enter his star chaser in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham, instead plumping for Ryanair and Gold Cup engagements – and victory here would surely see his odds for the Ryanair come crashing.
A year is a long time in racing and at this point in 2022 it would have been unimaginable that Shishkin would be moving up to two miles and five furlongs as well as engaging in something of a retrieval mission.
However, after his seven-race unbeaten streak ended when pulled up at last year's Festival, with a rare bone condition subsequently diagnosed, Shishkin could finish only a distant third to Edwardstone in the Tingle Creek.
A flipped palate scuppered a planned run at Kempton last month, but Henderson thinks Shishkin is back on form now and the distance would certainly appear to be well within his remit, judged both on his racing style and the fact he triumphed over three miles in the point to point field.
Fakir D'oudairies and Pic D'Orhy will provide a stern test, but if Shishkin is the champion he previously appeared, he should be good enough.
Henderson should also be on the mark with Bold Endeavour in the Bateaux London Reynoldstown Novices' Chase.
This does not appear to be the strongest renewal of this Grade Two and Bold Endeavour has 10lb or more in hand on the official ratings.
Cap Du Nord showed signs of a renaissance last time and can build on that in the LK Bennett Swinley Handicap Chase.
He was a game winner of the Coral Trophy in 2022 but struggled off his revised mark and is now back on the same perch as when he triumphed at Kempton.
Notachance can snap a two-year barren spell in the Betfred Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Haydock.
Winner of the 2021 Classic Chase at Warwick, he finished a fair third behind Iwilldoit in that race on his most recent start and is still 7lb lower than his last winning mark.
Erne River returns to Grade Two company in the Betfred Rendlesham Hurdle after an admirable handicap effort at Doncaster.
After proving no match for Hitman over fences here in November, Nick Kent pitched him into a class three event on Town Moor and he only went down by three-quarters of a length, conceding 18lb to the winner.
Clearly this represents a different kind of test, but Erne River can rise to the occasion,
Collectors Item can confirm Kempton form with Makin'yourmindup in the Albert Bartlett Prestige Novices' Hurdle.
The selection was getting 4lb that day and came home two lengths clear, with possibly a bit more in hand.
Knappers Hill should find the Wincanton Jennings Bet Kingwell Hurdle more his speed after an unsuccessful trip to Cheltenham.
He landed the Elite Hurdle over this course and distance back in November, but a combination of a longer trip and testing ground saw him well beaten at Prestbury Park on New Year's Day.
With decent conditions on offer in Somerset, Knappers Hill can bounce back.
Vadream enjoyed little luck on her return to action earlier this month but can make amends in the It's Time To Turn To talkSPORT EBF Fillies' Conditions Stakes at Lingfield.
Lion's Dream takes the eye as he makes his debut for Mick Appleby in Newcastle's Spreadex Sports Live UK Racing Streaming Handicap having previously been a winner for Richard Hughes.
ASCOT: 1.20 Springwell Bay, 1.50 Bold Endeavour, 2.25 Cap Du Nord, 3.00 Irish Hill, 3.35 SHISHKIN (NAP), 4.10 Apple Rock, 4.45 Kay Tara Tara.
GOWRAN PARK: 1.42 Carlton Gardens, 2.17 Sharjah, 2.52 Slane Hill, 3.27 Haut En Couleurs, 4.02 Macs Charm, 4.37 Sunnyvilla, 5.12 Iris Emery.
HAYDOCK: 1.30 V Twelve, 2.05 Erne River, 2.40 Notachance, 3.18 Get A Tonic, 3.50 Super Six, 4.25 Collectors Item, 5.00 Famous Clermont.
LINGFIELD: 1.03 Lost In Time, 1.38 Rose Bolt, 2.13 Non Mollare, 2.48 Vadream, 3.23 Rattling, 3.58 Crystal Delight, 4.33 Densetsu.
NEWCASTLE: 4.55 Russian Virtue, 5.30 Magicdollar, 6.00 Asdaa, 6.30 Queen Regent, 7.00 Lion's Dream, 7.30 Show Compassion, 8.00 Elzaal.
WINCANTON: 1.57 Earth Cry, 2.32 Balko Saint, 3.12 Knappers Hill, 3.42 Sam Barton, 4.17 Forever William, 4.50 Beyond Redemption, 5.20 William Ewart.
DOUBLE: Shishkin and Bold Endeavour.