As the crowd held their breath, however, the eight-year-old held on to the ground for an extra stride Adrian Maguire had not anticipated. When the partnership reached the other side, the jockey still had control of the reins but his bottom was no longer in the saddle. He looked on forlornly, briefly considering a remount, as the French outsider Algan forged ahead of tired horses in Monsieur Le Cure and Second Schedual.
This was all too much for Maguire, whose only response to inquisitors was "you saw it". David Nicholson, Barton Bank's trainer, was more forthright in word and action and allegedly struck a photographer three times for attempting to capture the unhappy scene of him consoling Maguire.
Last night, the Kempton stewards said they had not received an official complaint from either party, but could yet file a report to Portman Square following today's fall-out.
The trainer's immediate account of yesterday's events was delivered through a blizzard of expletives, but his main thread appeared to be that he was going to put the cameraman's equipment in a most uncomfortable home. "Adrian was upset, I was upset [thiswas not difficult to detect] and the owners were upset," he said. "It's totally out of order."
Brough Scott, the editorial director of the Racing Post, the photographer's employers and a newspaper which features a Nicholson column each Saturday, said: "Obviously, David was well out of order. Edward was only doing his job. Racing is an emotional game and things went too far. David will have to apologise."
This may have been Barton Bank's second consecutive fall in two starts this season, but the Duke was in no doubt about his gelding's place in the pecking order. "He's the best chaser in the land, there is no question about that," he said. "Better than those French chaps [not his exact word, which was alliterative]. If they want to win the Gold Cup I should think they'd want to start now.
"We were unlucky because he'd done everything right. I feel very sorry for Adrian, who was extremely upset about the whole thing. He was on the best horse on the day but it went wrong. We should have won half the track."
All this tended to detract from a fine training feat from Francois Doumen, who has now won four King Georges with three different horses. It was also a victory for the skills of Phillipe Chevalier on his first ride in this country. The 28-year-old formerFrench champion jockey, who in 1991 set a record for winners and prize-money in his homeland, was having his first ever racecourse ride on Algan.
Before play, in the parade, Doumen had looked more concerned with his No.1 aspirant, The Fellow, making sure the horse's rug was at exactly the right angle. Also on display were Monsieur Le Cure, who looked fitter than he had done all season without being completely tuned (a condition which betrayed him in the closing stages), and the guest of honour, Desert Orchid, whose increasingly snow white complexion makes him look more and more like a fairytale steed.
After initial reservations, Doumen was content with the attitude of Algan. "He gave me a hard time saddling up but he never got sweaty," the trainer said. "When I saw him calm in the parade I said to the Marquesa [de Moratalla, the horse's owner] we could be in business."
Algan, though, was not to the fore in the early stages. A slow pace was set by Young Hustler and Barton Bank, with Maguire high in the saddle and easing his mount over the obstacles. The temperature did not rise until the second circuit, when Travado, who has fallen only twice in his life, capsized at the 13th for the second consecutive year.
Between the last two, the battle appeared to be for second place, and Algan did not have strong claims for that as he struggled along in fifth. "But I had told him [Chevalier] to remain calm,'' Doumen reported, "and the horse stays so well that the further he was going the better he was going." Chevalier, through an interpreter, said he could only just see the speck in the distance in the home straight. "I saw him miles in front but then his backside skewed as he went over the last," the jockey said.
Algan, who was a 16-1 chance here, is now a similar price for the Gold Cup, while his stablemate The Fellow, who was pulled up with breathing problems, has been pushed out to that shelf by Ladbrokes.
Despite his capitulation, Barton Bank's odds were reduced by all firms for Cheltenham on a day when three of the first four in the ante-post market fell. The other two were One Man and Jodami, who handed the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby to Cogent when they both baled out in the closing stages.
The fourth man in the lists is Merry Gale, who may head the book if he can put in a clear round in the Ericsson Chase at Leopardstown tomorrow. But as several horses proved yesterday, most notably Barton Bank, that is easier said than done.
nAdrian Maguire gave up his final ride after jarring his knee in the Barton Bank fall and aggravating the injury in the next race.
GOLD CUP (Cheltenham, 16 March): Coral: 5-1 Barton Bank, 7-1 Merry Gale, 10-1 Jodami & One Man, 14-1 Dubacilla, Flashing Steel, Monsieur Le Cure, Raymylette & The Fellow, 16-1 Algan; Ladbrokes: 6-1 Merry Gale, 7-1 Barton Bank, 8-1 Monsieur Le Cure, 10-1 Jodami, 12-1 Algan, Dubacilla, Flashing Steel & Raymulette; William Hill: 6-1 Merry Gale, 8-1 Barton Bank & Jodami, 12-1 One Man, 14-1 Dubacilla, Flashing Steel, Monsieur Le Cure, Raymylette & The Fellow, 20-1 Algan.Reuse content