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Denman - Ruby Walsh - Cheltenham

Denman: now as short as 7-1 favourite for the John Smith's Grand National

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker  

Denman National bid prompts betting frenzy

A punting 'frenzy' on Saturday led to Denman trading as short as 7-1 favourite for the John Smith's Grand National.

Denman, due to make his belated seasonal reappearance at Newbury on February 7, was available at 16-1 for the Grand National on Friday, but trainer Paul Nicholls' revelation in his Saturday Racing Post column that the outstanding stayer could run in the 4m4f 30-fence marathon triggered a massive collapse in the horse's ante-post odds.

Writing in his exclusive column, Nicholls said that Denman - whose comeback has been delayed due to treatment for an irregular heartbeat - 'will be entered' in the Grand National and added that, in a change of opinion, he was 'coming round to the idea of running him'.

Nicholls, buoyed by BHA handicapper Phil Smith's decision to lower the Grand National top weight's burden from 11st 12lb to 11st 10lb, said: "The more I've thought about it, the more it makes sense while Denman is in his prime."

Those comments sparked 'ante-post punters into a frenzy' according toLadbrokes' spokesman David Williams. However, while that firm go just 10-1 from 16-1 about Denman, the news prompted even more dramatic moves from other bookmakers, with Totesport and Stan James installing the nine-year-old 7-1 clear market leader.

In a further reaction, Coral, who quote Denman at 8-1, suspended betting on the trainers' championship due to a belief that victory in the £900,000 highlight would make Nicholls unbeatable, while William Hill make Albertas Run, Exotic Dancer and Tidal Bay their 9-2 favourites for the Gold Cup without a Nicholls runner.


Cheltenham Gold Cup without Paul Nicholls runners:

William Hill:9-2 Albertas Run, Exotic Dancer, Tidal Bay, 8-1 Barber Shop, Imperial Commander, War of Attrition, 10-1 Air Force One, 12-1 Our Vic, 20-1 An Accordion, Snowy Morning, Trabolgan.

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