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Rupert Wyman 13th Feb 2010 - 15:54

The Tank blows up at Newbury, advantage Kauto?

Denman's Gold Cup hopes were severely dented as he unseated champion jockey AP McCoy in his last run, the Aon Chase, before the Cheltenham Festival showpiece.

Trainer Paul Nicholls had said that the 2008 Gold Cup winner, nicknamed 'The Tank', needed a run before the Festival so it will be a huge blow that he was unable to get round at Newbury.

As a result of his performance Denman's odds have drifted from 9/4 out to 11/4. His stablemate and chief Gold Cup rival Kauto Star has seen his odds shortened to 5/6 (from 5/4).

The War of the Wolds currently sees the two-time Gold Cup winner Kauto in prime position, but those in Team Denman will hope that the ten-year-old's performance at Newbury is just a blip.

They will be hoping that his normal sublime jumping returns at the Festival and if he performs at Prestbury Park as he did in the Hennessy in November, when he romped home despite conceding a lot of weight, then he could well be more than a match for Kauto.

After Saturday's race though it is those in the Team Kauto camp that will be the ones smiling.

Paul Nicholls' former number two jockey Sam Thomas, who ride Denman in his 2008 triumph, will probably be seeing the funny side of Denman's struggles with McCoy on board as he was overlooked for the ride upon 'The Tank' for this year's Gold Cup.

Ruby Walsh, who elected to ride Kauto Star, will definitely be thinking he has made the right decision, but with a little over a month until the big race plenty can happen in training.

So which camp will you be in come Gold Cup day Team Denman or Team Kauto Star?

Let the build up continue!



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