Just after three o'clock this afternoon at Newbury Racecourse, barring an inconvenient snowfall, history may be made.
Denman, a 10-year-old Irish gelding, may race away from the field to win the Hennessy Gold Cup for an unprecedented third time.
This will guarantee him an entry in the record books, but also a home in racegoers' affections. For he is one of those equine stars, like Arkle, Red Rum and Aldaniti, who pluck the heartstrings of the most weatherbeaten racegoer. Known as "The Tank" for his relentless, front-running style and his disdain for the fences over which he soars, he runs as if his life depends upon it. Though he carries top weight at 11 stone 12 lb, a stone more than his rivals, he outclasses them by determined, muscle-bound willpower. He never gives up. Yet behind his physical aggression there's an innate fragility. He had a heart scare in 2008, the year he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup – yet he fought back to win his second Hennessy in dramatic fashion last November before a roaring crowd.
He's not, experts will tell you, the best steeplechaser around. But if he wins this afternoon, he will transcend the record books to join the stable of quasi-mythical beasts that's headed by Pegasus and Shadowfax. He is certainly worth a flutter at 4/1. Go, Tank.