Denman and St Nick Convalescing Well

Denman and St Nicholas Abbey are both recovering from life-threatening illness or injury

Varying stages of convalescence: St Nick & Denman

Two stalwarts of the thoroughbred herd are making strong progress after life-threatening injuries and illness. Though their careers were at different ends of the sport, both Denman and St Nicholas Abbey have been enduring names in an often fleeting game.

Denman, winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2008, as well as the previous year's RSA Chase and two victories under top weight in the Hennessy, has been recovering from a life-threatening blood and bone infection. The worst was feared, but Denman - as most punters know - is made of sterner stuff.

Having resided in the alien surrounds of Newmarket's Equine Hospital for almost half a year, Denman is now back on the Gloucestershire farm that he's called home since his retirement in the spring of 2011.

And with the news that the thirteen-year-old can resume ridden work, it is hoped that he will be able to take part in hunts from March next year. A far cry from what he used to be doing at that time of year, for sure, but for a National Hunt legend almost lost to illness it represents the final stage of convalescence.

Meanwhile, St Nicholas Abbey, who recovered from defeat in the Alleged Stakes of 2011 to win three Coronation Cups at Epsom, a Breeders Cup Turf in Kentucky, and a Sheema Classic in Dubai, was also the recipient of an upbeat medical bulletin this week.

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Having fractured a pastern during the summer, vets feared the worst for Ballydoyle's globe-trotting superstar, who claimed his final Group 1 as recently as June of this year. Although his initial surgery went well, St Nick then succumbed to a bout of colic just two days later. Many horses fail to recover from colic, but - as with fellow invalid, Denman - St Nicholas Abbey is not "many horses".

Alas for the brilliant son of Montjeu, the ailments and incidents continued to rack up. Having shrugged off the colic, and recovered from the effects of surgery, his next setback came in August, when one of the pins holding his leg together snapped.

The aggregation of so many issues would be too much for most, but not for St Nick, whose sickness CV was still not complete.

In October, the beleaguered beast developed laminitis, a disease of the hooves which can be fatal if not detected and treated early enough. Happily, the most recent statement on his owners' Coolmore website read, "St Nicholas Abbey remains in great form despite the ongoing complications of laminitis and indeed is walking as good as can be expected.

We hope to see progress in the laminitic foot over the next few weeks (hoping that he continues to grow the hoof), if this happens rehabilitation of the fractured leg can then progress."

Unlike with fellow warhorse, Denman, St Nicholas Abbey still has further to travel on his convalescent road, but he's already proven himself as stubborn and unrelenting when dealing with the biggest battle of his life as he ever was on the track.


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