‘Everyone was so kind at the beginning when he was just starting out,’ says Charlotte, ‘They made room for him and if he was beginning to get fractious when queuing they would say “Let Denman go!” in much the same way they would say “Master on the left”. It was a huge help.’
Charlotte had already taken another Paul Nicholls trained horse, Earthmover, hunting him for many years until the age of 22. Twice winner of The Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham, Earthmover became an extremely successful team chaser and hunter, adjusting to his new role with relish. So pleased was his former trainer with the new life given to Earthmover post racing that he offered Charlotte the opportunity to hunt and compete in team chases with Denman.
In his hunting career he also visited the Blackmore Vale, Fernie, South & West Wilts, North Cotswold and Heythrop, finally retiring this year. With such a prolifically successful racing career and a The Denman Chase at Newbury named in his honour, Denman is perhaps not the typical ex-racehorse to retrain as a hunter, but he is also not the only top class horse to spend his retirement hunting and team chasing.
This season, Charlotte, who works at Lycetts office in Marlborough, specialising in equine and bloodstock insurance, will be bringing on two more Paul Nicholls trained ex-racehorses: Silviniaco Conti (who won seven Grade Ones, two King Georges, the Betfair Chase twice and the Bowl twice) and Ulck Du Lin. They will join Kahrayn who has already completed four seasons with the Beaufort.
Many significantly less famous ex-racehorses have also become extremely successful hunters. With a willing temperament and natural athletic ability they can take on the challenge of any type of country from the hills to the shires.
‘They are all different,’ says Charlotte, ‘but with the right training they can become some of the best hunters you will see. Denman learned to jump rails accurately thanks to all the training we had with Brian Hutton at Talland. He also became completely relaxed once he understood the game. To begin with we did have a few hairy moments when he would charge at top speed through the gateways. He also liked to rear very high when queuing, but once the penny dropped he absolutely loved it and settled down to make a very mannerly hunter.’
Lycetts has had a long association with the Retraining of Racehorses charity since 2010.