SANTINI and Bristol De Mai feature among the eight declared runners for this year’s Cotswold Chase on Festival trials Day at Cheltenham. Staged over three miles and a furlong, it is a leading trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup with three winners going on to success in the chasing showpiece later in the same season – Little Owl (1981), Master Oats (1995) and Looks Like Trouble (2000).
Last year Santini came out three and a half lengths to the good over Bristol De Mai before going on to find only Al Boum Photo a neck too strong in chasing’s Blue Riband.
Santini has made two appearances so far this season, chasing home the re-opposing Lake View Lad in the William Hill Many Clouds Chase at Aintree in December before going to take fifth in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. Bristol de Mai has had one run this term, winning the G1 Betfair Chase for the third time at Haydock Park in November. The pair are 9/4 joint-favourites.
Lake View Lad, who carries the famous silks of owner Trevor Hemmings, caused a 16/1 upset when scoring at Aintree. The 11-year-old grey enjoyed a great season in 2018/19, winning the G3 Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby and finishing third in the G3 Ultima Handicap Chase at The Festival™. He was winless in three starts last season before making his winning reappearance at Aintree.
Trainer Nick Alexander, who is based in Scotland, said: “Lake View Lad is in good form and the Cotswold Chase has been the plan for him since his win at Aintree. He will set sail for Cheltenham tomorrow and we will see what happens. The weather forecast doesn’t look good, but he is an intended runner.
“He is 6lb worse off with Santini and Native River based on his Aintree win and with that in mind, they should be beating him this time. You also have Bristol de Mai in there, so it is a very tough race, but we will see what happens.
“He is proven on heavy ground, so conditions won’t be a problem for him and this has been his target, so hopefully the meeting does go ahead.”