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Santini will return for Cotswold Chase at Sandown

Nicky Henderson confirmed the Gold Cup contender will run this weekend

Liam Headd

Liam Headd


01635 886629

Santini will return for Cotswold Chase at Sandown

Pic: Francesca Altoft

NICKY Henderson has confirmed that Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Santini will run in the re-arranged Cotswold Chase on Saturday.

The nine-year-old was due to line-up in the Grade 2 contest at Cheltenham last weekend, but the meeting was cancelled due to the course being waterlogged.

As a result, the Cotswold Chase will now be added to Saturday’s race card at Sandown where Santini holds an entry, while stablemate Champ – who is also aiming for the Gold Cup – will head to Newbury a week later.

Henderson said: "It’s only a week and it doesn’t matter at all and it does no harm.

"Champ comes to Newbury the following weekend, for the Denman Chase, so if all goes well we will keep them apart.

"Altior, meanwhile, will be in the Game Spirit and we also have some star horses in the Betfair Hurdle as Buzz and Mister Coffey will run in that one, I hope."

With rain continuing to hit most of the country, Henderson will be keeping an eye on updates from Sandown in regards to the going, but Santini – who was second to Al Boum Photo in last year’s Gold Cup – needs the run.

"Santini has to go really, but we need to see what they’re going to do at Sandown because it all depends on the weather."

The Seven Barrows trainer was thrilled after seeing Shishkin ease to victory at Doncaster on Saturday, winning by eight-and-a-half lengths.

It was a comfortable return to action for the seven-year-old, who will now head to the Cheltenham Festival for the Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase.

"He was great and it’s always a bit of a relief when those trials are behind us," said the 70-year-old. "He got a 10 out of 10 from all the judges and it’s obviously good news.

"He was fantastic and all of the pundits said the same, but if he wasn’t supremely good like he was then he would be getting criticised."

Shishkin has now moved to favourite for the Arkle at Cheltenham as he aims to remain unbeaten this season.

"He won’t run again before the Arkle and he’ll go in there at a short price."

Henderson also confirmed that Epatante and Buveur D’Air will also head to Cheltenham without a prep run.

He said: "She [Epatante] won’t run, no, and Buveur D’Air will go straight to the Champion Hurdle as well.

"It’s the one thing [her back] we’re trying to pay attention to at the moment – she was very stiff, but now she is good," he added.

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