Denman Secures £1.2 Million Win for Harry Findlay at Cheltenham

Not everybody knows this, but racehorse owners are allowed to bet on their own horses. They can’t bet against them, but they can back them, and that is exactly what the owner of Denman did in 2007.

The man’s name was Harry Findlay, a notorious high stakes gambler in the British betting community, and he had been planning this bet for almost a year, knowing that he had a winner on his hands.

Denman had started his career by winning his first five races, but when it came to his first Cheltenham festival appearance, he was pipped to the post in the Novices’ Hurdle and came 2nd.

Findlay was disappointed, but knew from the way his horse had raced that this was an anomaly rather than anything to be worried about, so entered him into the same race the following year.

Harry backed Denman from 10/1 all the way down to the starting price of 6/5, and as usual with Findlay, he had told plenty of other people to ‘lump on’ as well, describing the race as a ‘mortgage job’.

Harry has never told exactly how much money he bet on Denman, but I do know that he put at least £50,000 on at 5/1, and he won around £1.2 million all in all.

Denman Wins the Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham Festival, 2007

Denman Bet in Novices Chase by Harry Findlay

Will Palmer, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The weather had been so wet in the weeks leading up to Cheltenham, that people were even questioning whether the festival would go ahead, so Harry was expecting heavy ground.

But then a freak weather change hit the UK, and the country experienced 8 of the hottest days on record, leaving very fast ground at the racecourse.

Denman was the favourite by the time the race was off, and with Ruby Walsh in the saddle, the horse looked strong amongst the field of 17 runners.

Leading early, Denman’s main rival in the race became evident – Aces Four.

Aces Four edged into the lead midway through the last circuit and over the water jump, but Denman was a horse that liked to lead, so never let Aces Four get more than half a length in front.

Denman took the lead again just before the 3rd last and Aces Four then made a mistake on landing, giving Denman the initiative and dropping behind.

From this point on, Denman’s win was all but secured.

He led by 10 lengths over the final fence and stormed home, with Aces Four eventually losing momentum and coming in 4th.

Immediately after the race, Denman was entered into the following year’s Gold Cup, with odds of 4/1 making him the 2nd favourite – and we all know what happened there.

See more bets by Harry Findlay