Santini will take in the Cotswold Chase later this month before returning to Cheltenham for another Gold Cup tilt, according to new trainer Polly Gundry.
The 10-year-old moved to Gundry’s yard from Nicky Henderson’s Seven Barrows stable last year and made his debut with a decent fourth behind Commodore in a Cheltenham handicap chase last month.
He landed the Cotswold Chase back in 2020, defeating Bristol De Mai on that day and also finished second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same year behind dual-winner Al Boum Photo, a race he has again been entered for this year.
The former race is the next target for the Aintree Grade One winner, with his new trainer Gundry very pleased with his seasonal reappearance, although admitted he is still carrying some Christmas condition.
“The plan is the Cotswold Chase next,” Gundry said. “We considered the Lingfield [Winter Million] race but two miles and six furlongs is too short for him.
“It’s not a possibility but we are just keeping all options open. We are not going for another handicap like when he finished fourth behind horses carrying 26 pounds and 20 pounds less than him.
“It was a nice place to start and the two horses in front went a good pace but we want to go off level weights next time.
“So we are going to stick to the Cotswold Chase for him and that works out well timewise with about seven weeks to the Gold Cup.
“He’s a good bit leaner than he was on December 10th but he’s still got plenty of condition on that tummy!
“He likes it round Cheltenham – it’s not like he’s being ran too often and it’s about us having him ready and at the ideal weight. But he’s fit and ready to go.”
Gundry also went into detail about her yard, which runs alongside Edward Walker’s Point-to-Point yard and breaks young racehorses and event horses alongside having a dual licence to train flat and jumps horses.
“I’m a great believer – and it doesn’t matter if it’s staff, horses or children – that if they know their job, they will enjoy their job and are far more likely to enjoy it and the better they are,” she added.
“Obviously Santini is a horse with masses of ability but it’s about making sure they are happy in their surroundings and we are soft in that we want to make sure they like their neighbours.
“Doing all different sorts of things. Some horses like routine and some like things a bit different and keeping it interesting for them.”