Cheltenham Gold Cup 1994 – The Fellow

The 1994 Cheltenham Gold Cup featured the previous winner, Jodami, and The Fellow who, at least for a time, looked destined to go down in history as the unluckiest horse in the history of the ‘Blue Riband’ event. Trained in France by François Doumen and ridden by Polish-born Frenchman Adam Kondrat, The Fellow had recorded back-to-back victories in the King George VI Chase at Kempton in 1991 and 1992, but in both years had suffered agonising defeats in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

In the 1991, as a largely unconsidered 28/1 outsider, The Fellow had been beaten a short head – which was, at the time the narrowest margin possible – by Garrison Savannah. In 1992, as second favourite, at 7/2, in a field of eight, was headed in the final strides by Cool Ground and beaten the same margin. Consequently, The Fellow started favourite, at 5/4, for the 1993 renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but could manage only fourth, beaten 9½ lengths.

So, when The Fellow lined up, as a nine-year-old, for his fourth and final attempt in the premier steeplechase, he was still attempting to become the first horse trained on the opposite side of the English Channel to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He was sent off third favourite, at 7/1, behind reigning champion Jodami, at 6/4, and Bradbury Star, who had beaten him 10 lengths when narrowly touched off in the King George VI Chase at Kempton the previous December.

Nevertheless, redemption was at hand for The Fellow; under a well-judged ride from Adam Kondrat – who had received scathing criticism for his effort, or lack of it, the previous year – challenged, travelling well, from the third-last fence. At the final fence, which he jumped notably better than Jodami, he tackled long-time leader Young Hustler, a 20/1 chance trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, and ran on well to win by 1½ lengths from the rallying favourite.

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