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Denman retired: December 2011

Denman’s career was total quality from start to finish. I was thrilled when he won the Gold Cup, but I believe that race left its mark and after his subsequent tumble at Aintree couldn’t watch him live anymore. I have a friend who hid in the ladies at Newbury to listen to the live commentary when he was going for another Hennessy. He is just that kind of a horse.

Thank you for yourself Denman.

Jumping for fun: minus McCoy

Kauto Star & Denman

Tank mode with Ruby up

The Hennessy

I was asked if I fancied going to watch this today at Newbury. I gave it some thought. Then I remembered that as much as I like Newbury, I do not very much like the cold, or the jumps. I do like Denman and he goes for an historic treble today, but since he had a fall at Aintree and that heart procedure I’ve not been able to watch him. Putting all that into the basket and throwing in a round trip of about 300 miles in the Tin Can from Japan decided me against. If Denman does manage to win I’ll be the first to pour myself a treble of the damn stuff and toast him.

I haven’t got a view of the race to be truthful, although the thought that The Tank will have to lug a minimum of 1 stone and 4 pounds more than his nearest weighted rival makes me shudder (and it will be just 2 pounds shy of two stone to most of the field). Instead I can only repeat what most people may have heard already: there have been strong whispers coming into the race for the Irish horse Pandorama and that some good judges have mentioned that Madison du Berlais may be a rather generously priced 16/1. All home safe and not too knackered is all I ask for.

In the meantime I’d rather look at this fantastic picture of the flat racing darling Selkirk in the snow, which the delightful Clare Balding kindly allowed me to use. Selkirk was trained by her father Ian and raced for George Strawbridge in a career that enjoyed wins in the Lockinge Stakes at the selfsame Newbury, the Celebration Mile at Goodwood and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

Selkirk stands at Lanwades Stud in Newmarket, the fee for his services in 2011 is £20,000. He has sired 81 Group/Stakes winners including 12 Group 1 winners. So if it’s a group-winning flashy chestnut with some white markings you’re after producing you could do an awful lot worse…

Selkirk courtesy of Clare Balding's Twitpics

Mine’s a Hennessy

Much as I try to ignore this jump racing gear (and succeed for the most part during the week) the magnetic effect of the graded contests and the stars that participate would make a nonsense of my blog’s title if I didn’t even mention them.   During the flat season I can write a preview at the 48 hour declaration stage, providing the weather outlook is fair, with the jumps I have to mug up on the morning.

For once Thommo had something enlightened to say on the Morning Line, re Denman:

“We all know he can carry the weight, but can he give it away?”

Well put.  If I may borrow from Heaven 17’s Look of Love lyric for a moment:

“I don’t know the answer to that question.  If I knew I would tell you…”

Well I would.  What I do know is that everyone says Denman is well.  What I know as well is that he is the class act in the field.  What we know too is that he has not quite re-scaled the heights of the season before last since his heart procedure and that he was not foot perfect when we last saw him at Aintree, which is why his price was around 9/2 this morning. 

Barber’s Shop is probably the improving horse to watch for, but I don’t know enough about him to comment so I won’t.  I also know that Gone To Lunch comes top in the Timeform weight adjusted ratings and should come home well.  I would like Denman to win, but the fact of the matter is that he is giving away absolute lumps of lead to quality horses.  For example, State of Play (who was the subject of a midweek gamble from 33s into 16s) who is a former Hennessy winner himself is getting 2lbs shy of 2 stone from the Tank.  Even if the weight doesn’t stop Denman winning, it gives some other good horses a good chance of getting nearer him.

Frankly I don’t know what to do!  My shortlist consists of Denman, Barber’s Shop, Gone to Lunch and State of Play.  State of Play and I go back the furthest and the money and featherweight he carries is encouraging, but I am not keen on backing against Denman.  Maybe it is two bets – win and each way.   Anyway good luck to all the field. 

N.B. If you are betting each way in the race go to Skybet or VC who are the firms offering 1/4 the price for the first 5.

P.S.  I really like the look of Solwhit in the Fighting Fifth @ Newcastle and that was before Barry Dennis made Binocular his Bismarck!