How you feel now depends on whether you were a Denman fan or a Kauto Star fan. As the latter, I feel a bit flat. Of course I acknowledge the overwhelmingly impressive nature of Denman’s performance, but did he have to do it so easily?
We all wanted them to come to the last together and fight it out up the hill. In fact, it was a rout — Kauto wasn’t going to win a mile out. Denman is a huge machine of a horse, and this performance was a bit like a tank, rolling on regardless of any obstacles in its way. He’s not a quicksilver, character of a horse like Kauto. But he obviously is the best chaser.
And Paul Nicholls is obviously the best trainer. First three home in the Gold Cup? He’ll get a knighthood after this. Let’s not forget Neptune Collonges, who performed as a pacemaker early on but ran an absolutely cracking race to finish third. Having a horse that good as a third-string is quite something.
And imagine having to balance both sets of owners, jockeys, stable lasses etc — and concentrate on your other runners this week and all their connections. So much for a party at Ditcheat tonight — I bet all Nicholls wants to do is go to bed and sleep for a week.
It’s getting cold now, as the last race of a marathon week creeps up. The race of the century may not quite have come off, but Clive Smith, Kauto Star’s owner, wants to do it all next year. The Rematch — I’m not sure my nerves can take it.
But for now, it’s the tradtional Getting Out Stakes (the County Hurdle) — if you haven’t had a bet yet, now’s the time, and if you’ve had too many, you’d better have one more.
Don’t miss Horse & Hound’s full report on all the action from Cheltenham, including fantastic photographs of the equine stars on the show, on sale Thursday 20 March, ’08