GBI RACING

Santini stars on chasing debut at Newbury

Santini and Nico de Boinville win the Ladbrokes John Francombe Novices' Chase at Newbury

Santini lived up to his billing with an impressive debut over fences in the Ladbrokes John Francome Novices’ Chase at Newbury.

Having signed off last season with a Grade One victory at Aintree, the imposing six-year-old made a seamless transition to chasing in the extended two-mile-seven-furlong contest.

Although making one mistake mid-race, the 11-8 favourite made his class count when wearing down the prominently-ridden Rocky’s Treasure after the last in the Grade Two prize, before clearing away to score by four lengths under Nico de Boinville.

He was cut to 3-1 for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March by both Unibet, Paddy Power and Betfair, while Coral went 9-2 for the same race.

Henderson said: “You would have to be very pleased about it. I was nervous about the ground. He is a beautiful horse, but he is big and he is gross. He is quite laid-back about it at home.

“We got on the grass on Thursday to school and that was the first day he has woken up, but he is like that. I couldn’t believe he was straight enough, to be honest. He is so lazy about it all. I thought it was a great performance.

Santini and Nico de Boinville clear the water jump at Newbury (Julian Herbert/PA)
Santini and Nico de Boinville clear the water jump at Newbury (Julian Herbert/PA)

“Nico gave him a lovely ride, as he let him find his feet, and although he made a couple of little mistakes, he let him think about it.

“He jumped a couple a little bit big, but he was just learning and he will learn a lot for today and he will come on any amount.”

Looking to future plans, Henderson pointed towards Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

He said: “I suppose he will have to go to Kempton (Kauto Star Novices’ Chase), as there are so few you can run him in.”

Headlines