Shishkin got up in the final few strides to deny Energumene in a pulsating renewal of the SBK Clarence House Chase at Ascot.

Both horses brought unbeaten records over fences to the table in the Grade One showpiece, with Nicky Henderson's Shishkin the marginal favourite at 5-6 under Nico de Boinville.

The Willie Mullins-trained Energumene was sent off at 5-4 in the hands of Paul Townend and travelled and fenced fluently in the lead for much of the way.

It was not an easy watch for Shishkin's supporters, with De Boinville having to get lower in the saddle at various stages of the two-mile-one-furlong journey.

The writing appeared to be on the wall for favourite-backers in the home straight, with Energumene seemingly still full of running under a motionless Townend while Shishkin - who made one fairly serious mistake and was not fluent at another fence - was being rousted along.

Energumene still appeared the most likely winner as he held a narrow advantage jumping the last, but Shishkin's trademark turbo kicked in on the run-in to prevail by a length.

"The great thing is they've both come home safe and sound. It was a great race."

The Joe Donnelly-owned Shishkin was given a huge reception as he returned to the winner's enclosure, and Henderson said: "It was built up and it produced. They are two great horses.

"A race like that goes back to the Grundy and Bustino day [1975 King George And Queen Elizabeth Stakes] and he [Shishkin] only lives about four boxes from where Grundy did. It was important, it was a great weekend for racing actually.

"They [Townend and De Boinville] said to each other going down the hill, 'we are flat to the boards'. It had to be that, there was no point hiding. Energumene was going to set a good gallop and we had to keep in touch.

"There were moments it looked as if we weren't going as well but he stays very well, he possibly does drift a little bit.

"The great thing is they've both come home safe and sound. It was a great race. Willie and the guys are all great mates.

"There's going to be rematch. I always said I hope it's a good race today because then it won't ruin the Champion Chase and they will be back to fight it out together.

"Willie and I have both got jobs to do, we've got to get them back from a hard race today but there's lots of time.

He added: "This is a battle, not the war. The big day is in March and there's nothing between them. I'm pretty sure if we can both get them there together, it's going to be a lot of fun. Fascinating.

"It's special when you get that kind of build up, and it became very important - Nico said it gave him the best moment of his riding career so far, which says something when you've ridden Gold Cup winners and things like that."