Wednesday 19 July 2023

The Fellow

Trained by Fran├žois Doumen in Pau, southwestern France and ridden, for much of his career, by Polish-born jockey Adam Kondrat, The Fellow won the King George VI Chase at Kempton in 1991 and 1992. However, as far as the Cheltenham Festival is concerned, he is probably best remembered for winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, at the fourth time of asking, in 1994. That said, anyone who backed him in the previous three renewals has good reason to remember that his defeats were attributable, at least according to some observers, to his jockey.

The Fellow made his first appearance in the 'Blue Riband' event in 1991, as a six-year-old, when has was sent off a largely unconsidered 28/1 outsider. However, despite Kondrat taking a wide route for the whole way and a bad mistake at the fifteenth fence, The Fellow was the only horse to make a race of it with eventual winner Garrison Savannah. Indeed, The Fellow 'sprinted' up the run-in, making up the better part of three lengths, but was denied by a short head.

On the back of that performance, and his subsequent win in the King George VI Chase, The Fellow was sent off 7/2 second favourite for his second attempt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1992. Kondrat rode a not entirely dissimilar race and, after a ding-dong battle with eventual winner and third, Cool Dawn and Docklands Express, on the run-in, The Fellow was headed in the final strides and denied by a short head for the second year running.

In 1993, The Fellow was sent off a heavily-backed 5/4 favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but could manage only fourth, beaten 9½ lengths, behind Jodami, having been outpaced from the top of the hill. He was back again, as a nine-year-old, in 1994, by which time it seemed his time had passed. However, sporting blinkers and ridden closer to the pace than had previously been the case, The Fellow was always travelling and jumping well and kept on strongly in the closing stages to beat Jodami by 1½ lengths and, finally, reward his connections' perseverance.

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