Tuesday 24 October 2017

Denman has enough in tank for last hurrah

Wayne Bailey

Neil Diamond once sang "money talks" but if your dough has been saying "goodbye" to you all week, you've got seven more chances to get something back from the bookies as we reach the final day of the Festival.

It's Gold Cup time (3.20) and even though this year's renewal is not as good as others based on ratings, it's a fascinating contest, with previous winners Imperial Commander, Kauto Star and Denman all out to reclaim their crown. What can be said about Kauto that hasn't been said before?

He's arguably the greatest chaser since Arkle and has given my generation of race fans some fantastic memories down through the years. But let's face it, the star is starting to fade and it's hard to envisage him storming up the hill as in the days of yore.


Those of us who are opposing him would gladly lose our money to see it happen though, and the roof would not just be raised over Cheltenham -- it would be blown into space.

But 5/1 is not a good price, even though we'd all love to see it happen. I'm finding it hard to say anything bad about last year's winner Imperial Commander and his price of 3/1 suggests he has a 25pc chance of winning, which is probably about right. He wasn't overly impressive when winning the Betfair Chase however, and he'll have to be at his tip-top best to take the race again.

The last six-year-old to win was Mill House in 1963, but Long Run can't be ruled out with ease and has strong place claims.

But at 6/1, Denman is getting overlooked and the 11-year-old has a great chance of making the placings if not winning the race itself.

He ran a great race in the Hennessy while 8lbs higher than the previous year and he was giving around two stone to the field.

I believe that the horse once known as 'The Tank' has one last big race left in him; and a lighter schedule this season has ensured he's well prepared to have a serious crack at this, one last time. It's the end of an era for a couple of these old heavyweights so sit back and savour the moment.

Stat Attack

No horse has carried more that 11st 8lbs to victory in the Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle (2.05) in 50 years. On those stats, you can draw a line through Richard Johnson's Snap Tie and Alan King's Salden Licht.

Watching Brief

There's been text messages flying back and fourth all week about Willie Mullins' Sir Des Champs, and some are suggesting that he's laid out for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (4.40). But the weights are very tight this year and one could pick at least eight horses that are in with a fighting chance.

Lay of the day

It makes me sad to say it, but Kauto Star seems past it and at bottle (2/1) for a place in the Gold Cup (3.20), he's worth taking on.

He was off the bridle after the fourth last in the King George and the time is coming to bring the curtain down on his brilliant career.

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