'Everyone there was shaking their heads, open-mouthed'
ITV Racing presenter Luke Harvey recalls an amazing weight-carrying effort
First published in November 2017 to celebrate ten years since Denman's first Hennessy Gold Cup
Denman epitomised everything I like in a racehorse. He was gutsy, a bruiser, the sort of horse you wouldn't want to fall out with outside a nightclub. He intimidated other horses; he used to break them mentally with that relentless gallop and the way he attacked fences.
I saw him win over hurdles but I always recall his first chase at Exeter. After three fences you watched him and thought: "You're born to do that – that's what you're going to excel at."
His crowning moment for a lot of people was when he won the Gold Cup but one of the greatest races I've ever seen was when he won the Hennessy for the second time carrying 11st 12lb. I was watching from the press room balcony and it was pretty obvious from halfway down the back that he was already turning the screw.
It was rather heart-in-the-mouth stuff when he turned to go down to that cross fence and you wondered if the weight was going to tell but up the straight he was so tough and hard and Ruby Walsh was able to chuck him at his fences. You don't often see Ruby moved by horses but he was genuinely moved that day and in the press room everyone was shaking their heads, open-mouthed.
Although I go racing every day, my favourite thing is watching the horses, I love them, and I distinctly remember the moment he crossed the line I ran all the way down the stairs to get into the winner's enclosure to see him come back.
You don't often see a horse who tries as hard as he did. He was quite obviously absolutely exhausted: he'd given every last ounce, which is what I love about people or horses, someone willing to go that extra mile.
There was nothing flash about it; it was a gruelling 15-rounder where he beat them convincingly on points, all down to guts and determination. It emphasises how brave that horse was: he would gallop through a brick wall for you.
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