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Gold Cup winner Denman was 'touch and go'

ESPN staff
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Denman was known as the 'Tank' throughout his career © PA Photos
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Owner Paul Barber has revealed retired Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman has spent the last five months in a veterinary hospital after contracting a potentially fatal infection.

Barber admitted it was "touch and go" whether the 13-year-old gelding would survive the infection, which started in its bone.

"He's not been particularly well and I've had him in Newmarket Veterinary Centre for five months," Barber told BBC Somerset. "He's now come back to Charlotte Alexander, I was up to see him the other day and he is making headway.

"He's got a horrible piece of swelling round his back fetlock joint, which is going down every week Charlotte tells me. I can only pray and hope that he'll make a full recovery.

"On a hind fetlock joint he got an infection in the bone. Once we'd cured the bone problem, he then had a problem with his blood. That took him another couple of months to get over.

"I can only hope for everybody that loves Denman he'll make it to the other end. It was a very worrying affair. The veterinary hospital at Newmarket told me it was going to be touch and go.

"He's improving every day. When I went to see him the other day we had to have him in a cage so he can't gallop anywhere or do anything, but now he's out of the cage.

"I'd be very disappointed if he doesn't make a full recovery. I'm sure he's going to be back loving life again."

Denman famously won jump racing's most prestigious prize in 2008, when outlasting stablemate Kauto Star in a thrilling Gold Cup chase at Cheltenham. He then went on to finish second in the race three consecutive times, as well as entertaining in several thrilling battles with Kauto Star.

Trained by Paul Nicholls, Denman was retired late in 2011 after suffering a tendon injury.

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