Nico De Boinville knows what is required to win the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup and he believes Santini ticks plenty of boxes following his victory in the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase.
With questions to answer after a scrambling home on his seasonal return in a Listed contest at Sandown in November, the Nicky Henderson-trained eight-year-old provided some solutions with a tenacious success in the Grade Two prize.
De Boinville secured Cheltenham Gold Cup success aboard Coneygree five years ago, but his wait for another win in the Grade One highlight could soon be about to end should Santini build on his latest success.
De Boinville said: “That was a good performance and he showed all the right credentials going forward into a Gold Cup.
“He will appreciate being on better ground and on the new course as opposed to the old course, where he was in the RSA.
“This track seems to bring the best out of him and hopefully it can again in March.”
Although Santini’s season has been anything but plain sailing, De Boinville praised the work Henderson has done to get him back among the best staying chasers in the country.
De Boinville added: “It took a bit of getting him back after Sandown, with the wind op and everything.
“The owners have been very patient though and Nicky has piled the work into him.
“That is why the boss is doing what he is doing, as he has sharpened him up well and all our horses tended to need a run and look what has happened today.”
If Santini is to prevail in the Gold Cup in just under seven weeks, another step forward will be required, but having dismissed multiple Grade One winner Bristol De Mai on this occasion, De Boinville feels the best is yet to come.
He added: “I felt that I had Bristol De Mai covered as Santini is a very laid back horse. You are always just trying keep him interested and alive underneath you and not go too cold.
“I thought he had all the ability and was showing all the right signs at home. We were very much looking forward to today. He has passed all the tests and questions we have asked of him.
“We’ve still got plenty to work on and we have a while to go, so let’s hope he stays in one piece and go from there.”