Will Santini run in the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup?

A lightly-raced eight-year-old, trained by Nicky Henderson, Santini has the unenviable record of having run at the Cheltenham Festival three years running and been beaten, albeit narrowly, on all three occasions. However, to his credit, all three defeats have come in Grade One contests; in 2019, Santini finished third, beaten four-and-a-half lengths, in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, in 2019, he finished second, beaten half-a-length, in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase and, in 2020, finished second, beaten a neck, in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Although not quite able to get on terms with defending champion Al Boum Photo in the final half-a-furlong or so of the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup, it is worth remembering that Santini has only made six starts over regulation fences, so remains open to significant improvement as a steeplechaser. Obviously, a case can be made for any of the first three and, possibly, the first four or five, home in the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup, not to mention RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase winner, Champ, but the 7/1 currently available ante post about Santini for the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup seems fair enough. Cut in the ground appears to be a pre-requisite for the Milan gelding but, granted his favoured underfoot conditions, he appears likely to attempt to make amends for his agonising defeat. In the 2020 renewal, he closed steadily on the eventual winner all the way from the final fence to the winning post and, within ten or twenty yards, was in front.

Can Burrows Saint win the 2021 Grand National?

Of course, the 2020 Grand National was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic but, three weeks before the event was due to take place, Burrows Saint was second-favourite, behind only Tiger Roll, and had been well touted as one of the more likely winners. However, Burrows Saint is still a young horse and, granted that the last seven-year-old to win the Grand National was Bogskar in 1940, the enforced delay in his Aintree challenge may not be altogether a bad thing.

Owned by Susannah Ricci and trained, in County Carlow, Ireland, by Willie Mullins, Burrows Saint first emerged as a bona fide Grand National contender when justifying favouritism in the Irish Grand National, over 3 miles 5 furlongs, at Fairyhouse in April, 2019. He subsequently ran creditably in defeat, in two Grade One events, the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at Auteil and the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse, before reverting to hurdles in the Bet With Tote At Punchestown Hurdle on New Year’s Eve.

On the latter occasion, despite being disadvantaged by the race conditions, Burrows Saint was enterprising ridden by Rachael Blackmore and, having made all the running, only had to be pushed out on the run-in to win, easily, by three-and-a-quarter lengths. Bookmaker Paddy Power responded by cutting his odds for the Grand National from 20/1 to 14/1 so, while the 2021 Grand National is obviously some way off, the 25/1 available ante post, at the time of writing, could yet represent some value.