Image reproduced with the kind permission of Newbury Racecourse

Denman, forever remembered for that epic clash with Kauto Star in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup, which he won of course, has died at the age of 18.

Paul Nicholls revealed that the superstar, who won the 2007 RSA Chase and Hennessey Gold Cups in 2007 and 2009, despite shouldering huge weights, passed away on Tuesday.

After winning his Gold Cup, Denman looked set to be the leader in a new golden era – but later that autumn, it was reported that he had suffered from a heart issue which required an operation.

He made it back to the racecourse in early 2009, but appeared to be a shadow of his former self.

Even so, he finished a tremendous second to his illustrious stable mate Kauto Star in the Gold Cup, with the Cheltenham Festival crowd memorably applauding his gallant effort.

Denman placed in the next two Gold Cups also, before time was called on his career through injury.

Denman had mixed health in retirement, but his racecourse appearances were always treasured by a legion of racing fans who wanted to see “The Tank” first-hand.

Co-owner Paul Barber said: “If you’ve got great, big horses like him there’s a lot of strain and unfortunately they don’t live forever. I was so lucky to have him at home for the last couple of years and watch him enjoy life.”

Denman was put down, due to problems with a stifle, the equine equivalent of a human knee.

Paul Nicholls added his own statement: Paul Nicholls, who trained Denman for Barber and Harry Findlay, said:

“It is with regret that I have to report our hugely popular Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman was put to sleep painlessly yesterday.

“The decision was taken by his devoted owner Paul Barber with the full support of myself, our head lad Clifford Baker and our vet Buffy Shirley-Beavan. We all agreed it was the right thing to do because he had begun to go downhill in the past few days and we did not want to see him suffer.

“He was tough, hardy and willing, wasn’t the easiest to train and would bite your hand off in his box given half a chance. He came along at the right time and was one of our superstars during a golden era for Team Ditcheat.”