Santini has been supplemented for the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Nicky Henderson’s charge was beaten just a neck by Al Boum Photo in last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup and returned to action with second place in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree this month, finishing a length behind Lake View Lad after a prolonged run to the line with the last two fences omitted.
The eight-year-old is expected to head back to Cheltenham next month to defend his Cotswold Chase crown, but Henderson felt it was worth stumping up £5,000 to add him to the Kempton field because the Milan gelding is in fine form at home.
Henderson said: “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 Chase is still five or six weeks away, so we supplemented him this morning for the King George party.
“We discussed it last night. We’ve been through everything this morning, 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.”
Clan Des Obeaux will be bidding for a hat-trick in the three-mile feature and he is one of four possibles for Paul Nicholls – along with Cyrname, Frodon and Real Steel.
The reigning champion finished second to Haydock specialist Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase on his reappearance, while Cyrname arrives on the back of an impressive victory in the Charlie Hall Chase on his return at Wetherby back in October. However, he disappointed when only second to his stablemate in last year’s King George.
Frodon, winner of the 2019 Ryanair Chase, was last seen when well beaten in the Many Clouds Chase – while Real Steel was third on his initial outing for Nicholls at Ascot, having previously been trained by Willie Mullins.
Lostintranslation was well fancied in last year’s renewal but was pulled up before going on to finish third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
He also lined up in the Betfair Chase for trainer Colin Tizzard, but was beaten 47 lengths and is on something of a retrieval mission here.
Harry Whittington’s Saint Calvados could make his seasonal bow in the Grade One feature – with Ruth Jefferson’s Waiting Patiently another who would be having his first outing of the campaign, having been off the track since last December.
The Henry de Bromhead-trained Monalee, who finished fourth in the Gold Cup, is the sole Irish entry – and Tom George’s Black Op completes the 10-strong list of contenders.