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Page last updated at 13:03 GMT, Sunday, 15 November 2009

Denman blow 'disappoints' Thomas

Sam Thomas celebrates his Gold Cup win with Denman
Sam Thomas celebrates his 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup win Denham

Gold Cup winning jockey Sam Thomas is "disappointed" to lose his ride on former Cheltenham champion Denman.

Welshman Thomas rode Denman to Gold Cup glory in 2008 - shocking favourite Kauto Star - following on from their 2007 Hennessy Gold Cup success.

The 25-year-old left Paul Nicholls' stable in the summer and has now lost the ride on Denman to Ruby Walsh.

"I'm very disappointed to lose the ride but I can't complain as I've been very lucky," Thomas told BBC Sport.

"I have had the two biggest days of my career with him at the Hennessey and the Gold Cup - so I can't grumble because he has done so much for me.

"We had a very good relationship and had some great times together - and I probably will not ride another horse as good as him again.

The Abergavenny-born rider became Gloucestershire trainer Tom George's number one jockey in May and Thomas conceded he feared he may lose his ride on Denman when he left Nicholls' Ditcheat yard.

The nine-year-old Irish horse has been suffering from an irregular heartbeat but Nicholls insists Denman is a "different horse" now.


Irish rider Walsh, Nicholls' number one rider and two-time Gold Cup winner on Kauto Star, is set to be offered the ride on joint-favourite Denman at the Hennessey Gold Cup on 28 November.

Walsh was initially Denman's handler as they both won the 2007 Royal and Sun Alliance Chase but Thomas got the chance when Walsh was injured.

Thomas impressed as a deputy at the 2007 Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury and kept the Denman ride at the 2008 Cheltenham Festival - where he beat Walsh who was on board Kauto Star.

Walsh, though, was back on board Denamn at the Aon Chase at Kempton in February but took Kauto Star's reigns at the Gold Cup - allowing Thomas to be reunited with Denman.

But Walsh and Kauto Star took the title from second-placed Denman in March.

And Thomas had suffered a number of high profile falls on the great horse - then parted company with the legendary Nicholls yard.

Sam Thomas on his way to a recent victory at Warwick
The opportunities weren't coming with Paul Nicholls and I was kind of in between jobs when Tom approached me and I didn't have to think about it for too long before I accepted the offer

Welsh jockey Sam Thomas

Thomas, though, is not bitter after having his dream ride taken from him.

"Denman is such a great horse I hope he comes back to perform," he told BBC Radio Wales' Back Page show.

"He is a wonderful horse and I'm glad to be associated with him. And although I'd love to continue them, ride I wish him all the best and hope he comes back to his best.

"Although no-one knows as we might have already had his best out of him.

"It was in the back of my mind that I might not get a ride on this horse but only recently it became clear.

"The opportunities weren't coming with Paul Nicholls and I was kind of in between jobs when Tom approached me and I didn't have to think about it for too long before I accepted the offer."

While Thomas will not be on Denman at the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup, he still hopes to ride at National Hunt's blue riband showpiece event.

He said: "As well as Tom George's stable, I'm able to ride with Venetia Williams and Henrietta Knight so I'm privileged to be able to ride for three big stables.

"And there are some good horses coming through at Tom George's yard so hopefully the future is good."

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see also
BBC Radio Wales' The Back Page
13 Jul 07 |  Wales
Historic Gold Cup win for Kauto
13 Mar 09 |  Horse Racing
Champion horse honoured by Exeter
10 Nov 09 |  Horse Racing
Denman in clear after heart scare
25 Sep 08 |  Horse Racing
Denman storms to Gold Cup victory
14 Mar 08 |  Horse Racing
BBC racing coverage
09 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing

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