Denman routine excites Barber

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Owner Paul Barber feels Denman has “never been better” ahead of his quest to win the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup for a second time.

The 11-year-old Paul Nicholls inmate has become something of the forgotten horse in the build-up to the blue riband, having not been seen since his terrific third in the Hennessy in November. But Barber insists his preparation is going smoothly as the 2008 Gold Cup hero moves through the gears ahead of his date with destiny.

“He’s been doing plenty of walking and been creeping about the roads, doing something all the time. I think he’s showing the benefit of that routine. He’s in great form, back in full work, and I believe he’s never been better,” Barber told the Telegraph.

“We’re doing everything we can to win the Gold Cup, and we’ve found that Denman needs to be fully prepared for his races. You can’t go there 90% with him - he must be 100%. We didn’t want to get him up for a race when his main target is a month later.

“What we want to see now is his coat coming through in March.

“If the ground is on the soft side, he has a great chance of winning again.