Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman has passed away aged 18, his trainer Paul Nicholls has reported. Relive four of the races that cemented his reputation as one of the best and most well-loved National Hunt horses of recent years.
This year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup second Might Bite and Presenting Percy, like Denman an RSA Chase winner, are 6/1 favourites to win the race in 2019, while Native River, whose style of victory in March so resembled the merciless galloping of ‘The Tank’, is next in the betting at 7/1.
Let’s relive a few of the defining moments of true a titan of the winter game.
Denman wins his first Hennessey Gold Cup – 2007
Nicholls had been unable to get a prep-race into his charge prior to Newbury’s famous handicap, but it was to prove unnecessary as he defied top weight to win by an emphatic 12 lengths.
Denman dethrones Kauto Star to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup – 2008
His stablemate Kauto Star was the defending champion and sent off favourite, but at the fourth last it had become clear that even one of the greatest jumpers of all time had no answer to Denman’s trademark unforgiving cruising speed.
Denman bounces back from a defibrillating heart for a fine Cheltenham Gold Cup second – 2009
The Tank didn’t return to the racecourse until early February 2009, after he was discovered to have been suffering from a defibrillating heart and was beaten first time out by Madison Du Berlais.
Doubts over whether he would ever again compete at the highest level were prevalent in the aftermath, but he dispelled them categorically with a superb silver medal behind brilliant stablemate Kauto Star.
Denman wins his second Hennessey off top weight – 2009
Even more than his Gold Cup victory, Denman’s weight-carrying Hennessey romps will define his memory in the hearts of racing fans and his second win in the race off 11st12lbs was arguably even more impressive than his first.
No longer the young up-and-coming second-season chaser, doubts over whether he had it in him to defy the next generation and top weight saw him laid at 6/1 in the week leading up to the race.
Eventually sent off favourite at 11/4, an emotional Nicholls sums up what it meant to him.
Denman (2000-2018) RIP