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Will Santini Rise To The Occasion At Cheltenham Festival?

Source: HorseRacingUK via Twitter

Santini will return to Cheltenham Festival after failing to rise to the occasion in his first race at the week-long event. Nicky Henderson’s charge competed in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and was the leading contender for the crown but could only place in third behind rank outsider Kilbricken Storm. The seven-year-old has found his form since the race and will be back in action, although he will now aim to win the RSA Novices’ Chase title.

The bay gelding has been installed as the leading contender for the crown among the leading bookmakers for the event. However, last season proved that he does not have an imperious hold at Cheltenham and there are enough talented horses in the field to challenge Henderson’s charge, despite the trainer’s pedigree at the event. Therefore, it will be worth considering tracking the progress of Santini along with Delta Work and Topofthegame ahead of the contest.

Given that the meet could be a close run race it’s vital to get the best Cheltenham offers from bookmakers. Bet365 offer a no-run option along with a welcome offer of a £100 free bet in line with Cheltenham Festival. Santini’s inability to get over the line in pole position is a concern looking ahead to the RSA Chase, which is reflected in his odds, ranging at 3/1, with Delta Work right behind at 5/1. There’s always drama at the Festival and it will take a flawless performance from the seven-year-old to secure the win.

Failure At Cheltenham

Nico de Boinville was in the saddle for his last outing at Cheltenham in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. However, Santini failed to find his rhythm on the track and was stuck in the middle of the pack for much of the race. He finally shifted gears to move into contention but was off the pace down the stretch and was forced to settle for third place – four-and-a-half lengths behind Kilbricken Storm.

The bay gelding was able to bounce back with a fine performance to end the 2017/18 campaign at Aintree. Santini held an early lead at the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle, although he was forced to battle back after surrendering his advantage. De Boinville moved his charge to the inside and managed to keep pace with the leading group. He made a surge down the flat and was able to pull clear to win by one-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of Roksana.

Warning Signs

Source: NewburyRacing via Twitter

Henderson’s charge began the new campaign at the John Francome Novices’ Chase. The seven-year-old was favoured for the event and was able to duly deliver on expectations with a steady run even though he was not operating at the peak of his powers. Santini made a couple of errors but was able to overcome them to defeat the rest of the field by four lengths.

However, the bay gelding had another outing to forget on Boxing Day, placing in third and narrowly off the pace at the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park. Santini does have star potential but he cannot afford to be anything other than his best to capture the crown at Cheltenham in the RSA Novices’ Chase. The field has quality and will punish him once again at the Festival.

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