'We're going to join the party' - Gold Cup second Santini added to King George
Last season's Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Santini has been supplemented for the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Saturday, a move trainer Nicky Henderson describes as "a wild idea".
In a surprise development, Santini was added to the King George on Monday at cost of £5,000 for a clash with the Paul Nicholls-trained Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname, who are vying for favouritism at around 15-8.
Santini, who is quoted at 13-2 in the updated betting, finished second to Lake View Lad in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree this month when nearly half the fences were omitted due to low sun.
Henderson said: "When you're in Tier 4 you haven't got a lot to do and on Sunday afternoon a wild idea occurred to me. The Cotswold Chase is too far away. We discussed it last night and he’s so well in himself.
"I hope he’ll be a lot sharper than at Aintree. My worry is that Kempton isn’t an ideal track for a big galloping type like him, but there isn’t much else to do with him.
"We're going to join the party. We're up for it and looking forward to it. It looks a strong race and we’ve been monitoring the entries all morning. There is nothing too unexpected. From what we’ve been told Monalee will be coming and is able to travel. If all ten stand their ground then we’ve got to finish fifth to cover our supplementary fee."
Owned by Richard and Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes, Santini raced at Kempton on Boxing Day two years ago when finishing third as the 11-10 favourite behind La Bague Au Roi in the Kauto Star Novices' Chase.
He won the Cotswold Chase last season before going on to finish a neck second to Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup.
"He wakes up for racing, you can't work him enough. Having to wait another month would be so boring for him," added Henderson.
"He loves racing and working, he thrives on it. He'll love it and, win or lose, he’ll enjoy himself and within two days he’ll be bucking and swinging again.
"He can be quite lazy in his races and doesn’t take too much out of himself. Some need massive breaks between races but the more you do with him the better he seems to be. This wasn't in plan A at all but there is not much else to do and we even toyed with a hurdles race."
Leading Irish contender Monalee remained engaged at the confirmation stage for the King George despite concerns over travel restrictions due to fears over the new strain of Covid-19.
The Henry de Bromhead-trained nine-year-old is the sole Irish runner among the ten entries revealed on Monday.
As well as the hat-trick seeking Clan Des Obeaux and last year's runner-up Cyrname, Nicholls could have four chances with Frodon and Real Steel in the reckoning.
Lostintranslation, Waiting Patiently, Saint Calvados and Black Op complete the King George possibles.
Henderson is set to run some of his biggest stars at Kempton and Champion Hurdle heroine Epatante features alongside Silver Streak and Goshen in seven entries for Saturday's Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle.
Ladbrokes King George VI Chase
Sponsors betting: 7-4 Clan Des Obeaux, 15-8 Cyrname, 11-2 Santini, 8-1 Lostintranslation, Monalee; 16-1 Real Steel, 20-1 Frodon, Waiting Patiently, 33-1 Saint Calvados, 50-1 Black Op
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