Nicholls bouyed by Denman op

Paul Nicholls is hopeful a breathing operation will help Denman produce a better finishing effort when he goes for further Cheltenham Gold Cup glory next month.

Paul Nicholls is hopeful a breathing operation will help Denman produce a better finishing effort when he goes for further Cheltenham Gold Cup glory next month.

The 2008 winner of the blue riband was joined by stable companions Big Buck’s, Poquelin and Ghizao in a spin at Wincanton on Sunday morning, and the champion trainer was delighted with the Prestbury Park-bound quartet.

Denman came up slightly short when bidding for a third win in the Hennessy Gold Cup in November and while he finished an honourable third to Diamond Harry, Nicholls feels the corrective procedure he has subsequently undergone will help him on his Festival return.

“Obviously, there was no disgrace in finishing just over 15 lengths third to Diamond Harry at Newbury, giving that very talented rival 26lb,” Nicholls said in his column on www.betfair.com.

“So why did we see fit to give him the operation? Well, in last year’s Gold Cup and the Hennessy I didn’t think he was finishing the races as well as he could.

“Before Denman first ran in Ireland, he had a hobday operation but he didn’t have his soft palate cauterised.

“So we had that done a week after the Hennessy, and I just hope that it will improve him slightly and allow him to finish off his races a little better.

“We took four of our big Festival guns for a racecourse gallop this morning, and they all fired nicely.

“They all worked over two miles, going a nice steady gallop, then quickening up in the final furlong.

“Denman (Sam Thomas) worked with Big Buck’s (Harry Skelton), and Poquelin (Ian Popham) worked with Ghizao (Nick Scholfield).

“All four went nicely, but it was not a serious gallop.

“It was just a nice trip out for them.”

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