One Man

One Man  One Man was a hugely popular, but ultimately ill-fated, grey steeplechaser trained in Greystoke, near Penrith, Cumbria by the late Gordon W. Richards and owned by John Hales. All in all, One Man won 20 of his 35 races under National Hunt Rules, and 17 of his 26 steeplechases, but is probably best remembered for his emotional victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 1998.

Having tried, and failed, to win the Sun Alliance Chase in 1994 and the Cheltenham Gold in 1996 and 1997, he was sent off 7/2 joint second favourite for the 1998 Queen Mother Champion Chase, despite dropping back to the minimum trip for the first time since his debut, in a novices’ hurdle at Hexham, in 1992. However, his high cruising speed and exceptional jumping ability served him well and, in the hands of Brian Harding, he went clear from the second last fence to beat Or Royal by 4 lengths.

Sixteen days later, though, One Man was dead. Stepped back up to 2 miles 4 furlongs for the Melling Chase at Aintree, One Man started 2/1 favourite to beat just four rivals, including Queen Mother Champion Chase runner-up Or Royal. However, having raced prominently, he failed to leave the ground for the ninth fence and suffered a fatal fall.

In his bright, but all-too-brief, career, One Man had also won the King George VI Chase at Kempton (twice), the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby (twice), the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon, the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury and the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase. His Timeform Annual Rating, of 179, leaves him just short of the truly “great” steeplechasers of the last fifty years or so, but is still only 3lb inferior to Best Mate, for example.