Cheltenham Festival 2019

Relentless, remorseless - The Great Denman Passes Away

"RELENTLESS, REMORSELESS!"

The words used by Richard Hoiles to describe Denman as he won the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup summed up one of the toughest horses to step foot on a racecourse. 

The passing of Denman at the age of 18 has been met with a sea of tributes as you would expect, but few can sum up the career of a horse better than those two simple words. A Cheltenham Gold Cup record of 1222 is sensational by any standard but when that run is interrupted by a serious heart problem, it feels even more special.

Denman spent much of his career in the shadow of the legendary Kauto Star, who was one box down at Ditcheat, but for many it was "The Tank" who captured their hearts.

A remarkable galloper with a heart of a lion, few wil forget the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Under a stunning ride from Sam Thomas, the then eight-year-old turned the screw on Kauto Star and Neptune Collonges with a display of stamina and jumping rarely seen. A dual Gold Cup winner and a future Grand National hero were left punch drunk and out on their feet. Breathtaking.

Three further second places in the Cheltenham Gold Cup proved the staying power of a great horse as he went down on his sword in typical fashion against younger animals. Few can match the Gold Cup record of The Tank.

Newbury was the other site of Denman's greatness with two Hennessy Gold Cup victories in 2007 and 2009 never to be forgotten. With 11st 12lbs on his back for both wins, the Paul Nicholls trained star managed to produce two weight carrying performances for the ages.

Those remarkable victories at the Berkshire venue bought comparisons with the great Arkle and an official rating of 182 from the BHA puts him right up there with the greats. The victories were of course sensational in their own right but it was the style of his races which ensured he was adored by the public.

Denman raced with his heart on his sleeve. At times, it felt like you could see his will to win from the stands and it is those horses which attract the love of a sporting nation.

Rest easy Denman...

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