Denman produced one of the great weight carrying performances last year at Newbury to win his second Hennessy Gold Cup, but he faces an even bigger challenge this season if he is to make history and claim a remarkable third triumph in the prestigious handicap. His win last year will always go down as a special performance but if he can repeat the trick this season carrying 11st 12lbs it will surpass even that feat, he is carrying 8lbs more than last year and that added with his age leads many to believe he could be vulnerable at Newbury this weekend. We do know that Denman loves it around Newbury and expect him to be going a strong gallop in the early stages as always under Sam Thomas in a bid to shed his main rivals. The main target for Denman this season will be the Gold Cup but trainer Paul Nicholls has said he is ready for the Hennessy so there can be no excuses for the 2008 Gold Cup winner.
A win for Denman at Newbury could well be a career best performance for The Tank with a number of dangerous runners lurking lower down the weights, Weird Al is an improving chaser and with a weight of just 10st on his back he looks a real threat. The same can be said of Big Fella Thanks who is understood to be in great form at home for Ferdy Murphy, his main aim is the Grand National but is coming in for plenty of money and could be a nice each-way price for the Hennessy. One plus for the connections and fans of Denman is that many of the runners will be running out of their handicap due to the presence of The Tank in the field which should negate much of the 8lb hike he has received from last year. A good run for Denman will see his price for the Cheltenham Gold Cup slashed, he ran a good race last there last season before being beaten by Imperial Commander and the Cheltenham Festival is his long term aim again in 2011.