Friday, November 26, 2010

Denmania Returns

Denmania Returns

It’s that time of year again; rolling around like clockwork; Denman is set to take the Hennessy, Kauto Star The King George. It has seemed this way for some years now, comfortable, expected. Both of these superstars are supposed to be approaching the end of their careers but show little signs of decline. When asked about Denman approaching his eleventh birthday, Paul Nicholls stated “He's not getting any better at his age, but in our view he's not getting any worse at the moment either”.

Tomorrow may be the last time Denman runs around Newbury, he may go for the Aon Chase in February where last year he unshipped Tony McCoy when 1/6 favourite. That race was a mere blip however and his fine second in The Gold Cup has resulted in his rating of career-high 182.

Denman ran four times last year, his record was 1U24. His only win of the campaign came in a workmanlike performance in the 2009 Hennessy, but then again Denman is teak, he is a relentless 17.1 hands high galloper and will make the field suffer tomorrow as he attempts to become the first horse to ever win three Hennessey’s. Arkle and Mandarin never achieved this, they both had refinement and panache in abundance but Denman is all “blood n guts”.

Tomorrow morning he will leave Box No 2 at the Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat, there will be a mini exodus as Neptune Collonges, Taranis, Niche Market and The Tother One lead a five-pronged Paul Nicholls attack on the race, while all should make a good account of themselves, it’s all about Denman.

Last year he beat What A Friend who was carrying 22lbs less, watching the race there was a time where Denman was niggled along 4 out and ridden again when 2 out but he ground it out and stayed on strongly under pressure on the run-in. He is running off the same weight as last year but rated higher (182 vs. 174). Sam Thomas takes the ride ahead of the injured Ruby Walsh, Noel Fehily and Tony McCoy (who never won riding Denman on three starts).

Denman is carrying a top weight of 11-12, Nicholls believes “He's going to need a career-best to win”. The horse reportedly schooled very well and is primed for a bold showing but this is still the Hennessey. There are seventeen runners in the race including Noel Meade’s Pandorama, the well-weighted Weird Al for Ian Williams and Diamond Harry, an exciting novice chaser last year. There are a crop of talented staying chasers snapping at the heels of Denman.

In July, Paul Barber took over Harry Findlay's share in Denman, mainly due to the BHA situation, he is now the sole owner of the horse and one wonders has he taken the a snip of the odds of 25/1 that bookmaker Blue Square are offering to complete a Hennessy/Cheltenham Gold Cup double.

In reality tomorrow may be the swansong for Denman and he is entitled to his own little piece of history. At the weights he appears to have it all do to, he shoulders a big burden but that’s what tanks do, they rumble on regardless and it’s better to be on a tank than facing one.

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