Monday, December 5, 2011

Denman in top shape ahead of Lexus return

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has been at pains to remind punters not to forget the great Denman ahead of the veteran’s return to action this season in the Grade 1 Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28, writes Elliot Slater.

Nicholls believes that many people in horse racing betting circles have written off the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner as being ‘over the hill’ on the evidence of his final outing of the term when he ran poorly at Aintree, but believes he should be better judged on his outstanding effort in the Gold Cup a few weeks earlier when running a blinder to finish second to Long Run, just edging out stable companion and fellow racing legend Kauto Star to take the minor honour.

Nicholls has already proved with the stunning seasonal debut effort of Kauto Star in routing Long Run in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month, that he can have his veteran horses cherry ripe for their first run of the term and reports that Denman is doing everything right at home and is showing no signs just yet of age catching up with him and ruling him out of competing at the very highest level of the sport.

As short as 16/1 with some firms but some horse racing tips have him available at up to 25/1 for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, those odds will certainly tumble if, (as Nicholls appears to expect), Denman runs a big race in Ireland at the end of the month. It shouldn’t be forgotten that the veteran is still one of the highest rated chasers in training (177) and those that recall his 14 wins from 24 career starts, including two Hennessy Gold Cups, the Lexus Chase, Cheltenham Gold Cup and RSA Chase, will not be too quick to sign owner Paul Barber’s great racehorse off to the history books just yet

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