Hennessy History: Denman a double Champion
When you think of Newbury’s prestigious Hennessy Gold Cup, invariably the first two names that pop into the mind are the mighty Arkle and, more recently, the just as mighty Denman, with both powerhouses having captured the Grade 3 on two occasions. Arkle’s victories are probably the most famous in history, with his two wins coming against his old foe Mill House in 1964 and 1965, where the great one carried an amazing 12st7lbs.
Denman was also forced to carry a hefty weight on both his victories in 2007 and 2009, lumping around top weight of 11st12lbs under Sam Thomas and Ruby Walsh respectively. Denman had been a revelation in his Novice Season with an unbeaten record of five, culminating in a devastating 10 length victory in what was the Royal & SunAlliance Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Newbury and a first attempt at the Hennessy Gold Cup was on the agenda as the big bulking chestnut readied himself for a return to action in December and Paul Nicholls’ charge didn’t disappoint, handing out an 11 length beating to Dream Alliance at a generous price of 5/1.
This would be the season where Denman would also lower the colours of defending Champion and stablemate Kauto Star in the Gold Cup with a powerful performance up the famous hill. The then 8yo would miss his chance to defend his Hennessy title having missed the first half of the 2008/9 season due to a heart condition but would return to Newbury at the end of that year looking to bounce back to winning ways.
Bounce back he did, laying it all on the line as always and showing the toughness that made him a true Champion by outstaying another stablemate, What A Friend, by 3 lengths, again carrying top weight. Little did we know that this would be the last time that the brilliant Presenting gelding would enter the winners enclosure.
Denman would eventually be retired in 2011 as he prepared to set out on yet another season but only after finishing runner-up in two more Cheltenham Gold Cups and ultimately failing to land a third Hennessy in 2010, eventually finishing third having again carried top weight at the age of ten.
Mandarin is another horse who should not be forgotten when it comes to the Newbury showpiece. The Fulke Walwyn trained horse was the winner of the inaugural running in 1957 which actually took place at Cheltenham and would again be victorious in 1961, the second year it was ran at its current home.
Denman, Arkle and Mandarin are the only three horses to have won the race more than once and are also three of a total of eight horses that have won both the Hennessy and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with the most recent being Bobs Worth who was victorious at Newbury in 2012 before going on to Cheltenham to win the big one the following March.
By Kevin Walsh / Photo: Alan Crowhurst/PA Wire
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