One horse that could be worth avoiding in next week’s Cheltenham Gold Cup is the Nicky Henderson-trained Santini. This lethargic son of Milan is a splendid stamp of a thoroughbred, who has always taken the eye in the parade-ring. Nevertheless, his career has been far from trouble-free and there are huge question marks over his pace.
Last term everything went against Santini as he prepared for the RSA. However, in spite of a difficult build up he ran a great race to finish a close second place. Given the number of errors he made through that race, to ultimately finish in such close proximity to the eventual winner was a courageous performance.
This term he made his seasonal debut at Sandown racecourse, starting that contest with outrageously short betting odds of 1/3. He won the race with very little to spare, scrambling home in a timid race which he should have won with minimal fuss. Santini raced very wearily and his jumping was rather deliberate at times, this workmanlike effort was given the benefit of the doubt principally because it was his seasonal debut. However, it is a justification that the cynics might well raise an eyebrow to.
Santini was alleged to have been given a small wind operation and had plenty of time to recuperate. He re-emerged in the Cotswold Chase last time out where he put on a much-improved performance. His jumping was much slicker and everything was a lot easier on the eye from the onset. His backers scarcely had a moments unease, he won that race comfortably beating a good yardstick in Bristol De Mai by three lengths.
Numerous horse racing pundits and journalists have ‘hyped’ Santini up since then, implying he is ‘tailor made’ for the Gold Cup. Yet the suspicion remains that he just isn’t good enough, despite the betting suggesting otherwise. He has been scraping by against lesser sorts and is well below the form required to be a genuine Gold Cup contender. Indeed, it is likely that he will struggle with pace of the classier sorts on the day.
Santini just doesn’t fit the profile of a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner and a lot of horses in this race would have to run poorly for him to involved at the business end of the race. With no disrespect intended to Nicky Henderson, Santini has to be considered one of the worst value punts at this year’s Cheltenham Festival and certainly looks one to avoid in the pools.
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