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Santini (right): McGinty
It wasn't pretty viewing but Nicky Henderson was saddled to a Cheltenham contender who won't race but left more questions than answers.
Santini, cents off 1-3 against three rivals in the Listed Future Stars Intermediate Chase at Sandown, lumbered round 12-1 front-running Now McGinty on the bob of heads.
The sluggish showing came 24 hours after stablemate and Champion Hurdle hope Ruffles had struggled to justify odds-on narrowly in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.
Watch: Santini just gets the better of Now McGinty at Sandown
Again bookmakers took a dim view, lengthening Santini's Magners Gold Cup chances with Hills going from 12-1 to 8-1, although they were back to 10-1 later.
Bookmaker prices for The Ladbrokes King George VI The Chase on Boxing Day were seemingly worthless as Henderson rolled out a return to Kempton next month.
Santini's equally labored efforts in the Kauto Star at the course last Christmas, although Henderson pointed out that in the third with Topofthegame the second form was reproduced in their RSA Chase finish at Cheltenham.
"We can't put a line through the King George. He didn't enjoy the Feltham. [Kauto Star] last year and we'll have to sharpen the pencil now and consider everything else.
"He was rusty and dusty and that was hard work and not what we were expecting," added a slightly ruffled Henderson. "He wasn't jumping out of that ground.
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Nicky Henderson: "He was rusty and dusty and that was hard work and not what we were expecting,"
Clutching at the positives, Henderson said: "There is a long way to go and you wouldn't know he was good at home – he is quite slow – so he is probably a hard horse to get properly fit. the clock up a bit! "
Asked about the possible meeting with Altior this season, Henderson said: "They would meet one day but I wouldn't want to see them work together."
Nico de Boinville gave him a few slaps down the shoulder to wake him up.
Tom O'Brien at McGinty's first round of the race, including round the dolled-off Pond Fence maximum throttle on the runner-up and De Boinville carefully squeezing out his response.
"The winning rider said:" It was the easiest spectator sport he had been working with. the ability. "
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FIRST PUBLISHED 2:40 PM, NOV 10 2019