NICKY Henderson’s Santini will join the King George party at Kempton after an afternoon of lockdown head-scratching at Seven Barrows.
The trainer has thrown down the gauntlet to rival Paul Nicholls as connections stumped up the £10,000 supplementary fee on Monday.
The Gold Cup runner-up was one of ten runners in the mix at the five-day stage of the Boxing Day feature as the likes of Clan Des Obeaux, Cyrname and Monalee stood their ground.
Santini had been expected to head straight to the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January but his trainer admitted he wanted to get another run into his star.
Henderson explained: “When you are in lockdown Tier 4, you haven't got a lot to do on a Sunday afternoon and I had a bright idea about what to do with Santini.
"The Cotswold is still five or six weeks away, so we supplemented him for the King George.
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"We've been through everything on Monday, and he's so well in himself and passed all his medical checks.
"We didn't put him in originally because I'm the first to admit we don't think Kempton will be his ideal track – but he's very well in himself, and there's nothing else to do.
"He may as well gallop round Kempton rather than gallop around here for five weeks.
“This is a horse that simply thrives on work and racing. The more you do the better he seems to be.
“This wasn’t the A-plan at all, but it’s a big Grade 1 and we want to win it.”
Henderson also confirmed that stars Altior, Epatante and Shishkin are all on course for their Kempton targets.
Epatante will be looking to defend her Christmas Hurdle crown on Boxing Day, while Altior and Shishkin will run the following afternoon in the Desert Orchid and Wayward Lad.
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