One of the great chasers of recent times, Denman was a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.
Moreover, he was famed for his Gold Cup rivalry with Kauto Star, a rivalry made even more fascinating by the fact that they were both trained by Paul Nicholls.
Denman was foaled April 17th, 2000. He was a rather dark-looking foal bred by Colman O’Flynn in County Cork. O’Flynn was also responsible for breeding his full brother and fellow Grade 1 winner Silverburn.
The chestnut was gelded was put up for sale in 2004 at the Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale when he was four.
This didn’t work out for the vendor when on-duty vets said that he would benefit from a windpipe operation to help his breathing.
|Sire/Dam||Grand Sire/Dam||Great Grand Sire/Dam|
|My Puttens||David Jack I|
Denman was well bred for the jumps and there was plenty of stamina in his pedigree.
Denman was initially sent to be trained by Adrian Maguire. He ran at the Duhallow point-to-point and, after winning there by 12 lengths, was scouted by Tom O’Mahony for Paul Barber.
Barber was impressed and struck a deal to buy Denman along with Harry Findlay. Having been sent to Paul Nicholls, Denman began running under rules and eventually routed his field in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle, run on this occasion at Cheltenham, by 21 lengths.
His main early aim was the RSA Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, though he lost out there as the 11/10 market leader.
When going novice chasing, he won his first four races and was once again favourite at the Festival, this time for the RSA Chase. Under Ruby Walsh, he cored this time by 10 lengths and a proper star was born.
It was decided that Denman could head for the Hennessy Gold Cup in 2007. With no prep run, Denman gave a stone and more to all rivals as well as a famous beating. The Gold Cup at Cheltenham was now on the agenda.
Paul Nicholls was keen to keep his two stars, Denman and Kauto Star apart. This horse went to Ireland for the Lexus Chase which he won, before heading off to the Aon Chase as a prep for the Cheltenham Festival.
With Ruby Walsh staying loyal to 2007 winner Kauto Star, Sam Thomas rode Denman in the 2008 Gold Cup. A 9/4 shot behind his team mate, Denman galloped relentlessly near the lead before pulling clear for a very famous 7-length win.
Denman needed treatment for an irregular heartbeat and was beaten on his reappearance. Kept fresh, he was saved for Cheltenham in 2009 when he was to bid for back-to-back Gold Cups.
This time around, he was beaten by Kauto Star in a famous race although Nicholls and Sam Thomas were extremely pleased.
In late 2009, ‘The Tank’ went for another Hennessy Gold Cup. Carrying 11st 12lbs, he managed another win against a horse carrying some 22lbs less.
Another Gold Cup wasn’t to be forthcoming despite attempts, while he also lost out in attempting a third Hennessy.
A runner-up effort in the 2011 Gold Cup was a terrific effort before Denman bowed out with a fifth at Aintree shortly after.
Denman’s biggest wins:
|Date||Race||Won By (Runner-Up)||SP|
|01/01/06||Challow Novices’ Hurdle, Cheltenham||21 lengths, The Cool Guy||5/2|
|26/11/06||Berkshire Novices’ Chase, Newbury||12 lengths, Snakebite||2/11|
|14/03/07||RSA Chase, Cheltenham||10 lengths, Snowy Morning||6/5|
|01/12/07||Hennessy Gold Cup, Newbury||11 lengths, Dream Alliance||5/1|
|28/12/07||Lexus Chase, Leopardstown||4 lengths, Mossbank||4/9|
|09/02/08||Aon Chase, Newbury||20 lengths, Regal Heights||1/4|
|14/03/08||Cheltenham Gold Cup, Cheltenham||7 lengths, Kauto Star||9/4|
|28/11/09||Hennessy Gold Cup, Newbury||3½ lengths, What A Friend||11/4|
As well as Grade 1 wins including a Gold Cup appearing in this list, Denman managed to successfully carry big weights in two Hennessy Gold Cup handicap chases which is quite a feat.
Kauto Star v Denman
The rivalry between Kauto Star and Denman at their peak was really never a rivalry as such, at least not where the trainer is concerned as he handled them both!
With punters taking a view and different owners paying the bills however, the rivalry was real to many with opinions still divided on who was best.
Although the same age, Denman and Kauto Star had differing levels of experience. Denman didn’t go chasing until October 2006, while Kauto Star was going over the larger obstacles nearly two years earlier.
Denman got to the Cheltenham Festival in 2007 as a novice, while Kauto Star had already run in the Champion Chase a year before that and was winning the Gold Cup that year too.
Their routes to the 2008 Gold Cup had to be different. Denman stayed at 3m – 3m2f all season, taking in the Hennessy and then Lexus Chase. Kauto Star was able to drop in trip, going over 2m4f and climbing after that.
The pair faced off in no fewer than four Gold Cups. In 2008, Denman won by beating Kauto Star by 7 lengths. In 2009, he was beaten by his rival by 13 lengths.
In 2010, both were beaten by Denman did best to finish second, Kauto Star falling as favourite. In 2011 Denman was once again second in the race with Kauto Star four lengths behind him in third.
Kauto Star won more than twice the prize money earned by Denman, running in 31 chase races to Denman’s 19. Match-ups suggest that Denman was better, however Kauto won two Gold Cups in his time and achieved an incredible rating of 193 after that stunning 2009 King George victory. Denman was rated 182 after his Gold Cup win and the 2009 Hennessy.
Over the length of his impressive career, Denman managed to earn £1,141,347. His achievements honestly deserve even more and had it not been for the need of several wind operations during his life, he may yet have got it.
Denman was bred in County Cork by Colman O’Flynn, a successful breeder. After not allowed to sell at Tattersalls, he was sent first to be trained by Adrian Maguire.
When he was bought by Paul Barber and Harry Findlay, he was given to Paul Nicholls to train. Barber is not only one of Nicholls’ top owners, but it also his landlord.
Ruby Walsh rode Denman on a number of occasions, but when the big days came at Cheltenham, he tended to stay loyal to Kauto Star, leaving Sam Thomas to pilot The Tank.