Which Cheltenham Gold Cup winner was twice beaten a short head on previous attempts?

In the history of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which was established in its current guise, more or less, in 1924, just four horses have won the race three or more times. Of course, those horses were Golden Miller (1932-1936), Cottage Rake (1948-1950), Arkle (1964-1966) and Best Mate (2002-2004), but one steeplechaser who came closer than most to emulating that illustrious quartet was The Fellow, owned by the late Marquesa de Moratalla and trained by Francois Doumen in Chantilly, France.

The Fellow made his British debut as a five-year-old, finishing third, beaten 17 lengths, behind Desert Orchid in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, 1990. The following March, he made his Cheltenham Gold Cup debut and belied odds of 28/1 by beating all bar Garrison Savannah, who just held on to win by a short head, with 15 lengths back to the third horse, Desert Orchid.

Later that year, he gained some consolation when winning the King George VI Chase, by 1½ lengths from Docklands Express and, as a result, was well-fancied for his second attempt in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Sent off at 7/2 second favourite, The Fellow led between the last two fences and, although headed by his old rival Docklands Express at the final fence, led again on the run-in, only to miss out by a short head, for the second year running, to 25/1 outsider Cool Ground in a driving finish.

Later in 1992, he won the King GeorgeVI Chase for the second year running. His next race was the 1993 Cheltenham Gold Cup, in which he was sent off 5/4 favourite to make amends for two near misses. However, on unseasonably fast ground, he was outpaced at the top of the hill and, although he stayed on well in the closing stages, he could only finish fourth, beaten 9½ lengths, behind Jodami. The Fellow was also beaten favourite in the 1993 King George VI Chase but, the following March, finally redeemed himself, and his much-maligned regular jockey, the late Adam Kondrat, by winning the 1994 Cheltenham Gold Cup at the expense of defending champion Jodami.

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