Denman lost nothing in defeat in Hennessy

NO National Hunt racing today or, you’d imagine, for the foreseeable future gives us a chance to draw breath.

First up we have to talk about Denman and that gallant effort when third to Diamond Harry and Burton Port in last Saturday’s Hennessy at Newbury.

I thought he’d nearly win, but hindsight is wonderful and, I suppose, it was a big ask attempting to give lumps of weight away to two progressive young horses.

Paul Nicholls seemed to be adamant afterwards that it would be straight to the Gold Cup for Denman now, without the benefit of at least one more outing.

Paul didn’t get where he is today by accident and, if that’s what he thinks is the right move, then I wouldn’t go arguing with him.

Denman had a hard race and, I’d say, was a tired puppy on Sunday morning. But you never know in this game and, say in six weeks time, Denman could be absolutely flying and crying out for a race!

Two Saturdays back Master Minded came back to something approaching his best when storming home at Ascot.

He looked really good, although one’s enthusiasm should be tempered by the fact the only possible danger, Albertas Run, fell three out.

Essentially, Albertas Run departed when the contest was about to start and Master Minded would have beaten what was left with three legs.

That said, you would have to be more than pleased with the display. RUK showed every race from the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday and I watched the two mile Champion Chase again.

I rode Master Minded that day and RUK’s coverage reminded me of the manner in which he hung like a gate through that contest.

The same afternoon as Master Minded at Ascot, Paul threw Silviniaco Conti in at the deep end against Karabak and Zaynar.

Now Silviniaco is only a four-year-old and had to concede Karabak 4lbs. The way he bounded clear in the straight was mighty impressive.

I have never actually ridden him, missing out several times for various reasons. From what I’ve seen, I’m inclined to the view that two and a half miles is his ideal trip, but he does have a lot of pace and could yet develop into a Champion Hurdle horse. I hope we get the opportunity to see The Nightingale in either the John Durkan at Punchestown on Thursday, or in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon the same afternoon.

It will take a massive thaw for Punchestown to go ahead. I live outside Kilcullen, just ten miles from Punchestown.

I have never seen snow like we have here. I’ve seen it in England, of course, but certainly never in Ireland.

Wherever The Nightingale appears, he is capable of running a big race. I won on him at Down Royal, that fateful day when breaking my leg, and he was very good.

He has a preference for travelling right-handed, but the big thing with this horse is that he simply has to have soft ground.

Christmas is just around the corner now and the worst part for me is going to be watching Kauto Star in the King George on St Stephen’s Day.

I was delighted with him at Down Royal and loved the fact he jumped like a stag. I believe he will win another King George, but reckon it will be agony not being part of it.

I’d love to throw my leg over him in another Gold Cup at Cheltenham. At the moment there is no doubt Imperial Commander remains the one to beat, but it would be smashing to have another shot at the champ with Kauto.

I was at Newbury last Saturday, working for Channel 4, and got a close up of the new kid on the block, Peddlers Cross.

He was quite superb in slamming Starluck and Binocular and is the one we all have to beat in the Champion Hurdle.

We know he stays much further than two miles and yet had the speed to beat a fast horse in Starluck. Binocular did appear a bit big beforehand, but has something to prove.

Word on my leg is that it is now four weeks today since I broke it, so have at least another eight to go.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

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