Santini jumps to second favourite for Cheltenham Gold Cup glory after taking victory at Cotswold Chase
- Santini won by three-and-a-half lengths in the Cotswold Chase on Saturday
- Trainer Nicky Henderson is hoping for better luck after a ‘dreadful’ time last year
- Santini is as short as 5-1 second favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup
Santini is as short as 5-1 second favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup after a three-and-a-half length defeat of Bristol De Mai in the Cotswold Chase at the track on Saturday.
The Nicky Henderson-trained winner stepped up on an uninspiring comeback run at Sandown after which he underwent an operation to aid his breathing.
Henderson said: ‘He is big, powerful and learning all the time. He thrives on work and we have thrown it at him. The more you can get into him, the better he becomes.
Santini rode away to a three and a half-length victory ahead of Bristol De Mai on Saturday
‘Bristol de Mai is a rock-solid benchmark. The Gold Cup is an open race and there are a lot of protagonist but I think we are one of them.’
Santini was third in the RSA Chase at last year’s Festival but his preparation was disrupted by the Equine Flu outbreak and he also went lame. Henderson added: ‘We just have to get a good run in now. We had a dreadful time last year.
Meanwhile Emma Lavelle-trained Paisley Park made it seven consecutive wins in the Cleeve Hurdle to underline his status as the best long-distance hurdler in Britain. Paisley Park, who was ridden by Aidan Coleman, is odds-on favourite to land the Stayers’ Hurdle for the second year running.
After he had beaten Summerville Boy by a length and a quarter – a distance which could have easily been extended – Lavelle said: ‘That was a proper test but I think her was as professional as he has ever been.’