Sam Thomas has admitted that he will be “disappointed” if Denman does not finish inside the first three in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Thomas was on board for Denman’s best performance of his career when winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2008, but was replaced by Tony McCoy when the horse chased home Imperial Commander 12 months ago.
Denman is 11/2 in the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting to win the race for a second time and Thomas knows first hand that the horse has all the attributes to triumph, even at the age of 11.
Thomas told the Yorkshire Post: “He just has a very, very good engine. And, although he puts in big jumps, he is very economical. He’ll only do it if he has to. He’s agile for a big horse.
“There’s no reason why Denman can’t do it if he is back to his best, and bowls along from the front. First three? I’ll be disappointed if we’re not.”
However, Denman may have difficulty making all of the running as he is one of four recognised front-runners in the Cheltenham Gold Cup entries.
Midnight Chase, Carruthers and Neptune Collonges also all prefer to set the pace and the race to get to the front could result in all four horses setting off too quickly because of their desire to lead.
Both Long Run and Kauto Star are likely to be ridden close to the front and therefore the expected quick pace will put added strain on their jumping, which is known to be a bit suspect when put under pressure.
A quick pace may end up setting up the race for a horse that likes to canter along at the rear of the field and this could make Kempes reasonable value in the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting at 9/1.
Kempes has the added benefit of having the experienced Tony McCoy on board, although there are doubts as to whether he is actually good enough to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
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