Cheltenham Gold Cup Contenders: Santini profile

A profile of leading 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Santini.
A profile of leading 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Santini.

With a month to go until the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Steve Chambers starts our series of profiling the leading candidates for the Cheltenham Festival showpiece, with Santini coming under the microscope first...


  • Trainer: Nicky Henderson
  • Age: 8
  • Owner: Mr & Mrs R Kelvin-Hughes
  • Races: 9
  • Wins: 6
  • Notable Race Wins: 2018 Classic Novices' Hurdle, 2018 Sefton Novices' Hurdle, 2018 John Francome Novices' Chase, 2019 Cotswold Chase

Career Record

A winning debut at Newbury in December 2017 was followed by another taking success at Cheltenham, as Santini reeled in the Tom George-trained Black Op to win the Grade 2 Classic Novices' Hurdle on Festival Trials Day at Prestbury Park.

Going off the 5/1 favourite for the 2018 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, the Nicky Henderson-trained star was unable to maintain his unbeaten record as he could only finish third behind Kilbricken Storm and OK Corral. However, he recaptured the winning thread at the end of that campaign as he tasted Grade 1 victory at Aintree's Grand National meeting in the Sefton Novices' Hurdle, beating subsequent Mares' Hurdle heroine Roksana.

Always touted as a chasing star of the future, Henderson handed him a tough test on his chase debut, but the son of Milan came through with flying colours as he sauntered to a four-length win in the Grade 2 John Francome Novices' Chase at Newbury. A shock defeat in the 2018 Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day followed, when sent off the red-hot 11/10 favourite, and Santini then headed straight to the RSA Chase.

But, festival disappointment struck again as the 3/1 second favourite Santini was outfought by the Paul Nicholls-trained Topofthegame, who beat the Seven Barrows runner by half-a-length in a vintage renewal.

Out of the novice chasing division for the 2019/2020 campaign, Santini put in a workmanlike display when beating Now McGinty at Sandown Park, but he showed his real Gold Cup potential when outclassing his rivals in the Cotswold Chase on Trials Day to book his spot in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 13.


Course Form: Not out of the first four in his four races at Cheltenham, Santini relishes the undulations of GL50 and having excelled at the track in January then he has to be regarded as one of the leading contenders.

Stamina: While his rivals began to flounder in the closing stages of the recent Cotswold Chase, Santini appeared to be able to maintain the gallop to the finish line. The Cheltenham hill combined with a slight step up in trip for the Gold Cup should see the eight-year-old be thereabouts.

Trainer: With over 60 Cheltenham Festival wins as a trainer, Nicky Henderson has also managed to amass a brace of Gold Cup wins (2011 Long Run, 2013 Bobs Worth), so Santini will have one of the elite National Hunt trainers getting him fully revved up for the blue riband event on March 13.

Ground: A winner on good to soft, soft and heavy during his career, Santini would have no worries if there were to be a dry spell before the festival or alternatively a flurry of wet weather, so whatever the ground conditions are on the day he should have no problem acting on it.


Speed: There's no denying the fact that Santini isn't blessed with a whole lot of pace. Stamina is certainly his forte, so he will certainly not want a slowly run Gold Cup, where he is tapped for toe coming down the hill. 

Cheltenham Festival Record: Two visits to the Cheltenham Festival have not seen Santini venture into the winner's enclosure yet, so could it be that he just finds one too good on the big occasion. He's produced two thoroughly creditable efforts in the Albert Bartlett and RSA Chase, but on both occasions he's just struggled to see off his rivals.

How will Santini fare in the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup?

Having been on the Santini bandwagon for some time, he's a horse I tipped up prior to his Cotswold Chase success, and I am happy to not desert him heading into the Gold Cup. A horse that oozes class, Santini has all the makings of a top notch Gold Cup winner, and having only raced five times over fences then he is still open to some improvement over the larger obstacles.

Nicky Henderson has always spoken fondly about the eight-year-old and has had the 2020 Gold Cup on the agenda for the last few seasons, and personally I think he heads to the festival as one of the leading contenders for the prestigious race, where he can etch his name on to the illustrious roll of honour.

Cheltenham Festival Tips

Bet £10 Get £30 + 30 Free Spins

You must stake £10 or more at single/cumulative odds of Evens (2.0) or greater on your first bet. Free bet balance of £30 credited within 48 hours of your first bet being settled. Free Bets expire after 7 days. E-Wallet restrictions apply. Minimum 5 game rounds. Game restrictions apply. Maximum 30 Free Spins on selected games. Free Spins expire after 7 days. T&C's apply, 18+
Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Bets
New customers using Promo Code P30 only, min £10/€10 stake, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 2 x £15/€15 (30 days expiry), free bet/payment method/player/country restrictions apply. T&C's apply, 18+
Welcome Offer
Open Account Offer. Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5. Bet Credits available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply. The bonus code ‘100BET365’ can be used during registration, but does not change the offer amount in any way. 18+
Bet £10 & Get £30 Free Bets + £10 Casino Bonus
Minimum deposit of £10 using deposit code 30F - A qualifying bet is a ‘real money’ stake of at least £10 placed on any sports market - Minimum odds of 1/2 (1.5) - Free bets credited upon qualifying bet settlement and expire after 7 days - Free bet stakes not included in returns - Casino Bonus must be claimed within 7 days • To withdraw bonus/related wins, wager bonus amount x40 within 14 days • Wagering req. vary by game • Withdrawal restrictions and Full T&C’s apply. 18+
Up to £30 in Free Bets
New Customers deposit and bet up to £30 at odds of 2.0 or greater within 7 days of registration, Cashed out bets excluded. Matched bonus paid in free bets; 7 day expiry. Offer valid from 09:00BST on 26/05/2020. Card payments only. Geo Restrictions and T&Cs. 18+ | | Please gamble responsibly
£25 Bet Bundle
18+. UK Customers (Excluding NI) only. Cash stakes only. Min £10 stake required for initial £5 free bet. Min odds ½. Max £25 in free bets. Subsequent free bets equal 50% average of each 3 qualifying bets. 13 bets required to receive full £25 free bet. Qualifying bet must be placed within 30 days of opening account. Cashed out bets will not qualify towards your average stake. One free bet offer per customer, household or IP address only. Free bet expires after 7 days. Payment method restrictions apply. T&Cs apply.
Money back As A Bonus Up To £40 If Your First Racing Bet Loses + £10 Casino
New customers only. 18+, Min deposit £10. Money back as bonus. Wagering requirements: Racing 3x at min. odds of 1.40 (2/5), Casino 35x. Only one bonus can be used at a time, Racing bonus must be wagered before using the Casino, unless the bonus has been forfeited. Bonus will expire after 7 days of opt-in.
£20 Risk Free First Bet Money Back In Cash
New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is €/£20. T&Cs apply. 18+
Free £20 Exchange Bet
New customers only, bet up to €/£20 on the Exchange and if your first bet loses, we’ll refund you €/£20 in Cash. Bet must be placed in first 7 days of account opening. T&Cs apply, 18+