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Keighley is excited about Shinji’s potential future, despite the absence of Cheltenham.

Shinji, who finished third in a Newbury bumper on Saturday and showed a lot of promise, will skip the championship race at Cheltenham.

Louise Jones’ Kingston Hill gelding gave Flat trainer Roger Varian his first National Hunt code win when he won by nine lengths at Fakenham in November.

He then joined Martin Keighley, where, under Sam Twiston-Davies, he only lost to Aslukgoes by two and a half lengths at Newbury.

“I was thrilled with Shinji,” said Keighley.

“Sam said he must have some engine to pull as hard as he did. He said he basically ran away with him until he eventually settled in front.

“If he’d have settled from the start, he would probably have won. He is a most exciting horse.”

However, due to his lack of experience, his Condicote-based handler is reluctant to run him at the Cheltenham Festival.

“He had one run for Roger Varian and he won impressively that day, but he didn’t really beat much. Aidan Coleman still said he did it well, though.

“I think it is too much to ask for a four-year-old to run in a Champion Bumper. He would go to Aintree, I’d say.

“He will make an exciting hurdler for next season. We have schooled him and he jumps well, so we’re looking forward to him.

“He will get further. He is a real strong stayer – he must be to pull as hard as he did (at Newbury) and still hit the line so well.”

Prairie Diamond scored on his debut in the bumper at Hereford on Wednesday, making Keighley’s stable the yard’s fifth winner in the past two weeks.

“They are in really good form at the moment. I’m really pleased with Prairie Diamond,” added the handler.

“He is a big baby, but he came in late. I still own three-quarters of him, so I will have to sell the rest of him now.”

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