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.