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Cyclop's Happy Retirement

Updated: May 13

 Lorna Hardwick, Cyclop and Neil Connolly

Following a career that lasted exactly a decade on the race track, David Dennis Racing decided to retire Cyclop following his last run at Taunton on 11th March 2024. 

Cyclop will begin his retirement relaxing out at grass, sound, in good health and still full of enthusiasm.   

Cyclop (in front) enjoying retirement

He is one of the toughest jump horses that David has ever trained.  Cyclop began his career in France as a 3 year old, hurdling for Patrice Quinton.   David purchased Cyclop after he won a claiming hurdle around Auteuil in the spring of 2014.  Given he's not a very big horse, it was a remarkable performance which was a factor as to why David liked him. When joint owner Lorna Hardwick first saw him as a 3 year old she was impressed by his attitude when working and by his good limbs but thought his small size might limit him. At that time, she was only partly convinced by David’s confidence that Cyclop would be a staying chaser – she very soon changed her mind (as did the handicapper, who once Cyclop started chasing raised him 17 lbs in the space of two weeks).

Cyclop has won 3 times over hurdles and 8 times over fences, been placed 19 times and earnt a total of £161,007 in win and place prize money.

Career highlights for Cyclop have been winning the Lincolnshire National at Market Rasen, ridden by Trevor Whelan in 2017 (and was desperately unlucky not to win it in 2020 when runner up, beaten only a neck having been denied a run) and winning the William Hill Highland National at Perth in April 2021 (ridden by Brian Hughes).

Perth 2021 – William Hill Highland National

 Cyclop’s placings include: Southern National (Fontwell, 3 times), Cambridgeshire National (Huntingdon), Tim Molony Chase (Haydock), Borders National (Kelso), Somerset National (Wincanton, twice). He won a staying chase at Warwick, plus fourth places in the Eider (Newcastle), the Surrey National (Lingfield) and the North Yorkshire Grand National (Catterick). Cyclop also made a big impression on the wider public during the covid lockdowns, when racing was behind closed doors and could only be seen on TV. He cheered everyone up when winning by wide margins over hurdles and fences at Chepstow (ridden by Lilly Pinchin).  He has shown great versatility regarding tracks, seeming equally at home winning at Chepstow, Market Rasen, Musselburgh and Newbury.

He had an amazing 22/23 season where he was placed in 3 marathon Nationals at Fontwell, Kelso and Catterick before dropping back in distance to 3 miles to rattle up three wins on the trot in Veterans’ Chases, first at Musselburgh and then two at Newbury, which was an incredible feat.  He finished the season on his highest career rating of 136.

Cyclop began this 23/24 season finishing 2nd at Perth in a class 2 Handicap Chase and followed through with two further placings in top Veterans’ races at Chepstow and Sandown accumulating a further £15,000 in prize money.

As a young horse, Cyclop kept a low profile at home, but he increased in personality and character every year. The ultimate professional, he was very laid-back to saddle at the track and walking round the parade ring, but he sprang to life as soon as he went out on the gallops or cantering down to the start. Joint owner, Lorna said she “can hardly begin to imagine morning visits without seeing him spooking cheerily and pulling Neil’s arms out”.

Cyclop is by Kings Theatre and out of the Turgeon mare Tasmani (her first foal).  David Dennis racing has been lucky enough to acquire two of Cyclop’s younger brothers, Innisfree Lad and Gasmani.

From left to right: Neil Connolly on Cyclop, whom he has ridden and looked after for the last couple of years, Gasmani and Olly, Innisfree Lad and Gemma

David has trained Innisfree Lad (by Yeats) since he brought him privately as a 5 year old in 2017 from Mrs Ray Calder, who has continued to follow his career closely.  To date Innisfree Lad has notched up 9 wins and £107,186 in win and place prize money. Bob Allum, joint owner of Cyclop and Innisfree Lad commented that ‘they have given us so much excitement over many years maintaining their enthusiasm right into the Veteran stage, a considerable training feat by David and his team’.

The latest addition to the ‘Tasmani’ string is Gasmani (by Getaway), purchased by David as a 3 year old store at the Land Rover (now Arkle) Sale.   He had 2 runs in point-to-point Bumpers for experience, and then won his Maiden over fences at Larkhill in great fashion as a 4 year old. Gasmani started his career under rules in Bumpers for his new owners (Hardwick, Wright and Richmond), winning at Newcastle in March 2024 in a gutsy finish. A two year-old half-sister (by Maxios) waits in the wings so there may be further chapters to the story of David Dennis Racing’s training of this family of staying chasers, a story started by Cyclop 10 years ago.



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