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Henderson left crestfallen by Santini's agonising Gold Cup second

Santini (nearside) just fails to pass Al Boum Photo
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For every winner, there has to be a loser. While Al Boum Photo was being lauded for successfully defending his Gold Cup crown, Nicky Henderson was left to reflect on a near-miss with Santini.

Had the 3m2½f trip been an extra 20 yards, then it would have been Santini and Nico de Boinville posing for the cameras and being cheered into the winner's enclosure.

Santini closed all the way up the hill after the last fence and was in front just after the line, but ultimately ran out of time.

"Everything's gone according to plan, it was close but there's still a very big difference between first and second," Henderson said.

"Somebody has to finish second, it's a hard place to be but we can't complain and it's been a great week."

The trainer was magnanimous in defeat, but his anguish at being denied a third Cheltenham Gold Cup victory was evident.

"Willie [Mullins] is a great mate and Joe [Donnelly, owner] has got Shishkin and a couple of lovely young horses with us so I'm thrilled for them," Henderson added. "They're great people and it was a great race."

All things being equal, Santini will attempt to go one better in the race next year, although Henderson is keen for his great friend and rival to be suitably handicapped in his bid for a third straight Gold Cup victory.

"Next year he's [Al Boum Photo] not allowed to have any prep race, not even in January," Henderson joked.

Watch Santini finish a fine second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup

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Somebody has to finish second, it's a hard place to be but we can't complain and it's been a great week
E.W. Terms