A TRIBUTE TO THE WARRIOR DENMAN by Lewis Lesbirel
All of us at Newbury Racecourse are deeply saddened to hear news of the passing of the legendary racehorse Denman.
Trained by Paul Nicholls throughout his illustrious career, Denman was renowned for his relentless running-style and never-say-die attitude, which saw him accumulate an astounding 14 wins and 6 places from 24 starts.
His first three seasons under rules registered a near-perfect 13 wins from 14 starts, with the only blemish a surprise defeat at the hands of Nicanor in the 2006 Royal and SunAlliance Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival (Now the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle).
Those wins included memorable victories in the Hennessy Gold Cup and Aon Chase here at Newbury but culminated most emphatically with a historic defeat of Kauto Star, another legend of the sport, in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup, with future Grand National winner Neptune Collonges back in third.
In his next season, Denman was diagnosed with a fibrillating heart, but after time off for treatment he returned to the racecourse and went on to finish a gallant second in three more Cheltenham Gold Cups.
But in November of 2009, ‘The Tank’ as he was now known, ensured there wasn’t a dry eye in Newbury as he galloped his rivals into submission under a monster weight of 11st 12llbs to win his second Hennessy Gold Cup.
That victory, off a 13lb higher mark than his other top-weight Hennessy success in 2007, proved to be his last, and Denman was retired in 2011 with a tendon injury.
To honour his incredible achievements and love affair with Newbury, the race in which he won here in 2008, known then as the Aon Chase, run on Betfair Super Saturday in February was renamed the Denman Chase in 2012, and was won this year by subsequent Gold Cup hero Native River.
With five wins from seven starts here in Berkshire, Denman will be forever ingrained not only in the history of Newbury Racecourse, but in the history of the sport of Kings in general. He was simply the horse of a lifetime, and our thoughts are with all of those connected to the great warrior.
Rest In Peace The Tank, Denman.