Santini will face Cotswold Chase later this month before returning to Cheltenham for another Gold Cup tilt, according to new manager Polly Gundry.
The 10-year-old moved into Gundry’s backyard from Nicky Henderson’s Seven Barrows stable last year and made his debut a decent fourth behind Commodore in a Cheltenham handicap chase last month.
He landed the Cotswold Chase in 2020, defeating Bristol De Mai that day and also finished second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup that same year behind double winner Al Boum Photo, a race he was entered for again this year.
The first game is the next goal for the Aintree Grade One winner, with his new manager Gundry very pleased with his seasonal reappearance, although he admitted he is still bringing some Christmas conditions.
“The plan is the next Cotswold Chase,” Gundry said. “We have considered Linguaglossa [Winter Million] race, but two miles and six stages are too short for him.
“It’s not a possibility, but we’re just keeping all options open. We’re not going for another handicap like when he finished fourth behind the horses carrying 26lbs and 20lbs less than him.
“It was a good starting point and the two front horses had a good pace, but next time we want to get out of the weights.
“So we’ll stick to the Cotswold Chase for him and he works well over time with about seven weeks in the Gold Cup.
“He’s a little thinner than he was on December 10th, but he still has a lot of condition on that tummy!
“He likes to go around Cheltenham, it’s not that he runs too often and it’s about having him ready and at the ideal weight. But he’s fit and ready to go.”
Gundry has also gone into detail on her yard, which runs along Edward Walker’s Point-to-Point yard and breaks young racehorses and competition horses as well as having a dual license to train flat and jump horses.
“I’m a big believer – and it doesn’t matter if it’s staff, horses or children – that if they know their work, they will enjoy their work and are much more likely to have fun and the better they are,” she added.
“Obviously Santini is a horse with great skills, but it’s about making sure they are happy in their surroundings and we are soft in that we want to make sure their neighbors like them.
“Do all kinds of things. Some horses like the routine and others like things a little different and keep it interesting for them.”