Cheltenham star Denman retired

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Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman has been retired after suffering a setback in his preparation for the Lexus Chase.

The Paul Nicholls-trained 11-year-old was due to make his seasonal reappearance in the December 28 feature at Leopardstown, but a tendon problem has scuppered those plans and ended his career.

Denman enjoyed a successful career in novice hurdles but marked himself as a star when switching to fences and destroying his rivals by 10 lengths and more in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase at the 2007 Cheltenham Festival.

He followed up with a wide-margin win under top weight in the Hennessy at Newbury in December that year, before going on to claim the Lexus Chase.

Denman then enjoyed a showdown with stablemate and reigning champion Kauto Star in the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following March, with Denman galloping to glory by seven lengths under Sam Thomas, although his old rival reversed that form in 2009.

Nicholls’s charge turned in a memorable weight-carrying performance to win a second Hennessy in 2009, competing off a 13lb higher mark than in 2007 and giving nearly a stone and more to each of his rivals.

That was to be Denman’s final victory, although he chased home Imperial Commander in the 2010 Gold Cup and filled the same position behind Long Run last March.

He was last seen when finishing a lacklustre fifth in the Bowl at Aintree in April and while he will no longer be in training, he will be stabled with Nicholls until the end of this season.