The great 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman has been retired with immediate effect after a routine scan showed minor tendon damage just as the finishing touches were being put to his training ahead of his intended seasonal reappearance in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown feature Christmas meeting, writes Elliot Slater.
The news of the retirement of the hugely popular Paul Nichols-trained chaser came as a massive shock to his legions of fans for whom he has been a standing dish at the top meetings in the winter game since emerging onto the scene in 2005 as a star novice hurdler. Nicholls explained that the 11-year-old had been in terrific form and looking as good as ever but pulled up slightly sore after exercise on Wednesday after which connections decided to take a precautionary scan that sadly revealed the injury. He was then retired and the ante-post Cheltenham gold cup odds were updated accordingly.
After taking a day to consider the matter owner Paul Barber agreed that retirement is the best course of action for his great horse who also won two Hennessy Gold Cups, the Challow Hurdle, the RSA Chase, the Lexus Chase, and was runner-up in the Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup for the last three years. Denman’s effort in finishing second to Long Run in the blue riband Cheltenham contest last March was the epitome of his superb talent and attitude, giving it his all from the start and battling on all the way to the line to hold his legendary stable companion Kauto Star, who finished third.
His final public appearance was at Aintree a few weeks later when almost certainly feeling the effects of his tough race at Cheltenham he was never travelling and finished a disappointing fifth behind Nacarat in the Totesport Bowl. Denman, the horse who beat Kauto Star to win the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup in stunning fashion, has been one of the all-time great chasers and all in the sport wish him a long and happy retirement.