Denman may not have been at Cheltenham last week, but he is not standing down from competition for good.
The Paul Nicholls-trained 2008 Gold Cup winner was retired from the racetrack after sustaining a tendon injury in December, but – provided he makes a full recovery – will go team chasing and hunting under Charlotte Alexander (Thruster of the week, 2 February).
“What an honour and a privilege to ride such an amazing horse. I am the luckiest girl alive!” said Charlotte, who has been competing on the open team chasing circuit for 15 years.
“Paul knew I had lost [former ride] Earthmover and I was so touched when they wanted me to have Denman to do exactly what Earthmover did. He is only 12 and they wanted him to have an active retirement.”
Dual Christie’s Foxhunter winner Earthmover died while out on exercise last month at the age of 21.
He was also trained by Paul Nicholls and, from the age of 14, hunted and team chased with Charlotte.
Barring any setbacks, Denman, who is owned by Paul Barber, will move to Charlotte’s yard in the Cotswolds in September, having summered with Kauto Star and Master Minded.
Charlotte says she will take it slowly with “The Tank” and introduce him to hunting with the Duke of Beaufort’s once he is fit enough and has been cross-country schooled.
“I plan to team chase him next spring,” said Charlotte. “We will go steady and do some intermediates first and take it from there.”
Di Arbuthnot, director of operations at the charity Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), said she was “delighted” to hear about Denman’s second career.
“We are all about horses having a life after racing – and an active life. Charlotte will provide the most wonderful home for him.
“Denman will be a great flag bearer for RoR, hopefully taking part in our parades as well,” she added.
Denman missed out on parading before the race named in his honour at Newbury on 11 February because of his injury, but is reported to be making good progress.
“Hopefully, when Denman is a well-established, mannerly hunter, Mr Barber will come and have a day on him,” added Charlotte.
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (15 March 2012)
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