'Findlay the flutter' bids to cash in on Denmania

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"I am not," concedes Harry Findlay, "your archetypal owner of one of the Gold Cup favourites." You can say that again. The professional gambler, the joint owner of Denman with a Somerset farmer, Paul Barber, is a man of opinions, and a man who backs them – frequently to significant profit, as at last year's Cheltenham Festival, where he won a million on his horse when it won the SunAlliance Chase. But he also takes the occasional hits. And, whileone wouldn't dream of suggesting for a moment that he is mad or bad, he can clearly be dangerous to know.

"My worst [result] was when New Zealand got beat [in last year's Rugby World Cup by France], and not just because of the money I lost. OK, I did £2.6 million. But I've got £1.1m of it back. It's more because I told so many ordinary people to back them. I said: 'Just have one bet in your life. Have £5,000 on New Zealand to win £4,000.' I will never, ever fancy anything else so strong."

Denmania could be all the rage on Friday in this most eagerly anticipated Gold Cup duel since 1964, when the mighty Arkle overcame Mill House, even despite the ante-post favouritism of stable-mate and last year's victor, Kauto Star. The eight-year-old Denman was bred in Ireland. Kauto Star's owner, golf club developer Clive Smith, won the Betfair Million last season, following victories in the Betfair Chase, the King George VI Chase and Gold Cup, and is confident his horse can complete the hat-trick again, and that he, trainer Paul Nicholls, the jockeys and stable staff will make off with the same Betfair windfall. "I think we can beat Denman and we will beat Denman. I think we can quell once and forever this Denman upstart."

Findlay counters: "I just see Denman in front, Kauto coming to challenge and he'll be cruising, [jockey] Ruby Walsh will ask him for what he's got, and there'll be one second of decision when we all know the result. If it's spontaneous and Kauto goes past him, he wins. But if it isn't spontaneous, and he doesn't go past us, Denman will definitely win. If Kauto beats us, he's the daddy. It won't need a recount."