Denman and Big Buck’s take to the hunting field together

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  • Former stable-mates Denman and Big Buck’s were reunited on the hunting field yesterday (Monday 22 December).

    The pair — who were formerly trained in Ditcheat by Paul Nicholls — were back in Somerset having a day with Blackmore and Sparkford Vale.

    And the eight-times champion trainer was delighted with the turnout of his two former star charges.

    “They are having the time of their lives and looking very well — how top horses should be in retirement,” Paul told H&H.

    Charlotte Alexander, who rides Denman, told H&H she had a “fab day”.

    “Blackmore Vale is brilliant — there are lovely people and it is terrific fun for hedgaholics like me and Denman,” she said.

    Last week H&H reported how Denman was settling in well to his new career in hunting — and that was clear from his latest outing.

    This season the 14-year-old has really got to grips with his new sport and is proving a popular sight on the hunting field, flying over hedges and ditches.

    “It was wonderful to see everyone. As I unloaded in Paul Barber’s [Denman’s owner’s] drive I went into the yard and the whole of Team Ditcheat came out to see D and give him a cuddle and have their photos taken with him,” she added.

    Last year the winner of the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup spent five months in equine hospital after contracting a potentially fatal blood and bone infection. But he has made a remarkable recovery and is now back to his old self.

    “Denman was a superstar out hunting and jumped absolutely everything from hedges off the road to water troughs, white tape and a line of hedges with ditches in front,” said a thrilled Charlotte.

    “He flew and was as good as any of them. I am so proud of him as he has come a long way. We had a great run straight from the meet over the Barber’s hedges — it was absolutely wonderful!”

    Charlotte also praised Big Buck’s, saying he looked “amazing”, crediting new rider Lucy Tucker.

    “He stood with hounds impeccably and loved having his photo taken,” said Charlotte.

    Lucy told H&H the popular 11-year-old ex-racehorse has settled in well to his new life.

    The former hurdling hero — who famously won 18 races in a row — has embarked on a new career tackling different size obstacles this autumn

    The gelding — who won the World Hurdle at Cheltenham a record four times — was retired in March.

    And Big Buck’s, who was well-known for being a box walker, has settled into life with Lucy very well. She describes him as “very chilled out” and “incredibly sweet”.

    “We’re very privileged to have him, he’s an easy horse to do, is extremely well and happy within himself and will be doing lots more hunting all being well in the future,” added Lucy.

    H&H hunting editor Polly Portwin was also thrilled by the photos that emerged from the meet.

    “It must be such a thrill to ride either of these two horses with their speed, scope and general athleticism, yet alone the pride of riding one of the nation’s favourites,” she said.

    “I’m delighted to see these two stars of the National Hunt scene enjoying a happy retirement on the hunting field.”

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