Paul Nicholls is hoping a recent breathing operation will see Denman return to his brilliant best when he goes for Cheltenham Gold Cup glory next month.
The 2008 Cheltenham winner galloped with Big Buck’s, Poquelin and Ghizao at Wincanton on Sunday morning, and the champion trainer was delighted with the Prestbury Park-bound quartet.
“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 Betfair.
“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”.