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Golden moments we'll never forget: three of Denman's best winning performances

Denman and Sam Thomas win the 2007 Hennessy
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Hennessy Gold Cup, Newbury, December 1 2007

Plenty was already known about Denman's ability to pound his rivals into submission from his unbeaten novice chasing career but he was set a huge task by Paul Nicholls on his first start in senior company.

Carrying 9lb more than his nearest rival and making his first public appearance since a dominant display in the RSA Chase eight months previously, Denman blew away any cobwebs as well as his opposition in a brutal demonstration of power. 

In charge from early on the second circuit, he and Sam Thomas forged relentlessly clear up the Newbury straight, posting a remarkable Racing Post Rating of 183 on his way to an 11-length victory

2007 Hennessy Gold Cup, Newbury

Cheltenham Gold Cup, March 14 2008

From the moment Denman cruised to success at Newbury, the whole racing world looked forward to the potential clash with his next door neighbour in the Nicholls yard and reigning champion Kauto Star. 

The race lived up to the hoped-for drama though it departed from the script many had pre-written, as Kauto Star was taken out of his usually fluent rhythm by an indomitable Denman.

Ruby Walsh was already sending out distress signals running down the hill to the final turn in as Thomas and Denman simply piled on the pressure. 

The winning margin was seven lengths back to the gallant Kauto Star, leaving no doubt on that brilliant March day Denman was the best chaser in the land.

2008 totesport Gold Cup

Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, November 28 2009

There were an army of doubters who believed Denman would never recover his full powers in the wake of a heart murmur in the summer of 2008 and an inconsistent campaign in the spring of 2009 which culminated in a tired fall at Aintree.  

But Nicholls produced him in full fighting order for his seasonal reappearance in the Hennessy, with the former Gold Cup hero now required to carry virtually a stone more than any other horse in the line-up. 

Walsh was once again positive on the now nine-year-old and, although his old ally Thomas came out of the chasing pack to throw down a determined challenge aboard What A Friend, even a 22lb pull in the weights wasn't enough to deny Denman another career-defining success, one that matched his 2007 Hennessy on the figures. 

2009 Hennessy Gold Cup result




Foaled April 17, 2000; chestnut gelding

Pedigree By Presenting (1995 Derby third) out of Polly Puttens, by Pollerton

Breeder Colman O'Flynn in Ireland

Owners Paul Barber & Margaret Findlay

Trainers Paul Nicholls, Ditcheat, Somerset (Adrian Maguire for Irish point-to-point)

Four Grade 1 wins 2006 Challow Novices' Hurdle, 2007 Royal & SunAlliance Chase, Lexus Chase (Leopardstown), 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup

Two Grade 2 wins 2006 Berkshire Novices' Chase, 2008 Aon Chase

Two Grade 3 wins 2007 & 2009 Hennessy Gold Cup (both under 11st 12lb)

Champion novice chaser (Racing Post Ratings) 2006-07 (169)

Joint-champion staying chaser (RPRs) 2007-08 (184, jointly with Kauto Star)

Best three performances (RPRs) 184 in 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup; 183 in 2007 & 2009 Hennessy Gold Cup

Six runs at Cheltenham Festival Won 2007 Royal & SunAlliance Chase, 2008 Gold Cup; 2nd in 2006 Royal & SunAlliance Hurdle (to Nicanor) and Gold Cups of 2009 (to Kauto Star), 2010 (to Imperial Commander) & 2011 (to Long Run)

Four meetings with Kauto Star, all in Cheltenham Gold Cup 2008 (1 Denman, 2 Kauto Star), 2009 (1 Kauto Star, 2 Denman), 2010 (2 Denman, fell Kauto Star), 2011 (2 Denman, 3 Kauto Star)

Most wins in succession 9 (2006-08)

Richest prize 268,279 (2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup)

Total prize-money 1,141,347

Total races under rules 24; won 14 (5 at Newbury, 4 at Cheltenham), 2nd 5, 3rd 1

Winning jockeys Ruby Walsh 7, Sam Thomas 4, Christian Williams 3
Compiled by John Randall

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Kauto Star was taken out of his usually fluent rhythm by an indomitable Denman

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