Ante-Post Ladbrokes Trophy favourite Santini for trainer Nicky Henderson has been ruled out of racing in the Newbury contest with his handler opting to take him to Sandown instead.
Santini is a bright chaser that looks to have a superb future ahead of him this season having already shown in the last few seasons the potential and ability he holds.
The seven year old for his age is a very lightly raced gelding having only been out on track eight times and going on to win five of those events.
In his first year on the track he was unbeaten landing the Ladbrokes Novices Hurdle at Newbury and then going to Cheltenham in January 2018 where he took the Grade Two Ballymore Novices Hurdle.
He then went to the Cheltenham festival finishing a valiant third in the Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices Chase in what was his last run over hurdles.
Henderson stepped him up to the bigger obstacles last season where he became a big player in the three mile novice chasing division starting his season in the John Francome Novices Chase at Newbury and winning.
He then only raced twice more having some slight problems at home but still finished a superb third in the Grade One Kauto Star Novices Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, staying on well and looking like the horse to take out of the race for Cheltenham.
The RSA Chase was the preferred choice of race from his trainer and in one of the spectacles of the festival Santini could only manage a narrow second to Paul Nicholls' Topofthegame.
The seven year old now in his second year over fences is tipped to have a big season by many punters and was ante-post favourite to take the Ladbrokes Trophy but Henderson has recently announced this is no longer the plan for him.
The Seven Barrows trainer believes that the nature and style of the race will not suit his gelding and easier contest at Sandown will help his career much more.
(Credit At The Races) “It (Virgin Bet Future Stars Intermediate Chase) seems an obvious starting point for him, because he has not got a lot of experience,” said Henderson.
“I didn’t think about the Ladbrokes Trophy for him, because he has only had three runs over fences, and I think he would be short of experience for that.
“He has been good since coming back in and did his first piece of work on Saturday, like a lot of them did. He needed it, and will come forward from it.”