I was lucky enough to have been at Newbury yesterday afternoon to witness one of the most remarkable performances seen on a British racecourse for many years. Despite having to carry the welterwight of 11st 12lbs on very testing ground in the ultra-competitive Hennessy Gold Cup, Denman (above) annihilated the opposition, galloping to a hugely impressive 11l success. I arrived at Newbury undecided on what to back for the big race, but when I saw Denman in the paddock, my mind was made up. I have seldom seen a horse looking in such fantastic condition in the parade ring.
The sky really is the limit for Denman after yesterday's incredible performance, especially when you consider that his trainer Paul Nicholls insists he'll come on for the run. Don't be put off by the traditionally poor win record many recent Hennessy winners have had after their success; that's because many of them won the race off a low weight and couldn't cope with the handicapper's reassessment. So long as Denman, stable companion Kauto Star and Exotic Dancer can get to Prestbury Park safe and sound on 14th March, we look to be in for a classic Gold Cup.
p.s. I'm sure 'Grease Monkey' a London-based commenter on the Racing Post 'Chatroom' site is pleased he used a pseudonym after leaving this comment before the Hennessy.
"Tim Henman's got more chance of winning Wimbledon in a strait-jacket than Denman has of winning the Hennessy".
That has to be a candidate for one of the worst sporting predictions of all time.
Dont forget Trabolgan won the Hennessy a couple of years ago off top weight having also won the Sun Alliance a year before. He was hailed as the New Champion but hasn't raced since. I agree with you: if Denman can make it to Cheltenham in March we're in for a cracker, but in jump racing you can't take anything for granted.
I was there when Trabolgan won too and although his win was impressive, it was nowhere near as impressive as Denman's. I watched it again on video this morning, and it was truly amazing. Have a look at Graham Dench's analysis in the Racing Post today and you'll see what he thinks- he's the best race analyst in the business and not a man to get carried away too easily. But as you say, injuries are unfortunately all too common in NH racing (did you know that Well Chief is out for the season?)so let's keep our fingers crossed that the main protagonists can make it to Cheltenham because if they do we could be in for something really special.
The other thing I'd say about yesterday's race: keep an eye out for Character Building in future races- that was a terrific run and he'll be one to have on your side in the big staying chases in the spring.
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