It All Points To Denman For Gold
There has been no better system for picking a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in recent years than looking for an ex-Irish point-to-pointer. Time and again Ireland’s point-to-points have proved the perfect grounding for top-class staying chasers of the future.
Seven of the last 10 renewals of the Gold Cup have been won by an ex-Irish point-to-pointer, most recently in 2006 by War Of Attrition and notably by three-time winner Best Mate. The former’s trainer, Mouse Morris, believes that point-to-points are a far better preparation for jumping compared to bumpers, while the latter’s trainer, Henrietta Knight, is regularly seen on the Irish point-to-point circuit.
This year another ex-Irish pointer is tipped by many for Gold Cup glory, the brilliant Denman, who has been a revelation since the very first time he appeared in public at Liscarroll on March 20, 2005, his only point-to-point start.
Trained by Adrian Maguire for his Co Cork-based breeder Colman O’Flynn, he won a five-year-old gelding’s maiden by 12 lengths under Colman Sweeney from Just Naturally. The third-placed Snow Tern went on to win a Leopardstown bumper first time out by 20 lengths for Noel Meade which gave early indications this was no average maiden.
Denman was subsequently sold privately to owners Paul Barber and Harry Findlay to join Paul Nicholls, a big fan of Irish point-to-pointers, and has only been beaten once in 13 starts under Rules. His only defeat came when second to Nicanor in the 2006 Royal & SunAlliance Novices’ Hurdle but other than that he has an unblemished record and has won all his eight starts over fences, including last season’s Grade 1 Royal & SunAlliance Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, this season’s Grade 1 Lexus Chase at Leopardstown and also he carried top weight to win the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at the start of this season.
The strapping son of Presenting, a full-brother to this year’s leading Royal & SunAlliance Chase contender Silverburn, is the most exciting up and coming chaser in many years and his Cheltenham Gold Cup ‘match’ against reigning champion Kauto Star could be the highlight of a generation.
Recent Cheltenham Gold Cup Winners
2008 Denman??? (Pointed in Cork)
2007 Kauto Star
2006 *War Of Attrition (Pointed in Tipperary)
2005 Kicking King (IRE)
2004 *Best Mate (Pointed in Galway & Waterford)
2003 *Best Mate (Pointed in Galway & Waterford)
2002 *Best Mate (Pointed in Galway & Waterford)
2001 No Race
2000 *Looks Like Trouble (Pointed in Cork)
1999 See More Business
1998 *Cool Dawn (Pointed in Limerick, Waterford, Cork & Sligo)
1997 *Mr Mulligan (Pointed in Tipperary, Meath & Kildare)
*None of the above Gold Cup winners listed managed to win a maiden first time out!
For Irish point-to-point form since 2000 and a wealth of other information about the sport, please refer to www.p2p.ie
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