Saturday, 10 December 2016

David Dennis: New Kid on the Block

David Dennis is a fairly recent addition to the training ranks, having taken out licence in 2013, but he ran a pre-training yard and spent a decade as a professional National Hunt jockey before setting up on his own. Highlights of his riding career included Kingsmark, winner of the Edward Hanmer Memorial Chase at Haydock three years running in 2000, 2001 and 2002, and Brewster, winner of the stanjames.com Challow Hurdle at Newbury in 2004.

Lowlights, on the other hand, included his ride on Jardin de Beaulieu in the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival in 2002, in the days before remounting became a fruitless exercise. The 100/1 outsider was tailed off when turning a somersault at the second last fence, but was caught by a groundsman, who offered Dennis a leg up. However, the well-meaning, but heavy-handed, attempt to reunite the partnership succeeded only in tossing the jockey clean over the horse and back onto the Prestbury Park turf, from whence he had arisen just moments previously.

Nevertheless, Dennis survived the trials and tribulations of a National Hunt jockey until 2011 and, two years later, started training at Tyne Hill Stables, Hanley Swan, near Worcester. He saddled his first winner as a trainer, Princess Caetani, in a mile-and-a-half handicap at Chepstow in September 2013.

His one and, so far, only major success came at Newbury in November, 2016, when Roman Flight, ridden by Noel Fehily, won the bet365 Open Handicap Chase, worth just over £31,000 to the winner. All in all, Roman Flight won eight races over hurdles and fences for his owners, the Favourites Racing Syndicate.

Other notable horses that Dennis has handled in his short career include Maller Tree, who won twice in two days at Fakenham and Wetherby in 2014 and twice in three days at Newton Abbott and Huntingdon in 2015. In the 2014/15 season, Dennis also saddled Marju’s Quest to complete a hat-trick of wins at Worcester (twice) and Taunton. More recently, the Kayf Tara gelding Final Nudge won three steeplechases for the yard in 2016/17 and finished third in the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow in 2017/18.

In March 2017, to coincide with the Cheltenham Festival, Dennis celebrated the opening of a new, 60-box yard and other facilities at Tyre Hill Stables. So far, he has saddled 129 winners, 21 on the Flat and 108 over Jumps, and earned just short of £1 million in total prize money.

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