Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Horse Racing: Denman to Be the Festival Golden Boy

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Horse Racing: Denman to Be the Festival Golden Boy

Article excerpt

IT IS time for the talking to stop as the bell finally sounds for the showdown the racing world has been waiting for - Kauto Star versus Denman in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.

A real heavyweight contest this most definitely is, the swift and nimble Kauto against the powerhouse that is his stablemate.

We could not wish for a more intriguing affair and, not surprisingly, supporters of both horses are fairly entrenched in their views.

Certainly the respective owners are, with Denman being tagged The Tank' and Kauto Star 'The Maserati'.

It is nearly impossible to split them, but what is not impossible is that we have not yet seen the best of Denman and it is for that reason he is given the tentative vote.

Unbeaten over fences and beaten just once in his life, he has been ultra-impressive this season, most notably when lumping a huge weight around Newbury to win the Hennessy at a canter on his first start of the campaign.

Some tried to crab his Lexus Chase win in Ireland, but there was a lot to like about the way he quickened going to the last that day, and it showed a side to his game we had not seen before.

His prep in the Aon Chase was as expected and he arrives in tip-top shape, as does Kauto who, seasonal reappearance apart, has also been very hard to fault - picking up a second King George VI Chase prize in scintillating fashion along the way.

The latter has been the best stayer on the scene for a while now, a genuine superstar and officially the best since Desert Orchid.

But the cruising speed with which Denman operates means this is D-Day for Kauto too. Will he, for example, be able to live with his big rival over a truly-run three and a quarter miles and still see out the gruelling hill?

The gut feeling is he won't, but it promises to be edge-of-the-seat stuff whatever camp you are in. …

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