Teeton Mill followed his Hennessy Gold Cup victory with success in the 1998 King George VI Chase

Teeton Mill followed his Hennessy Gold Cup victory with success in the 1998 King George VI Chase

Sad news has reached us that the death of Teeton Mill has been reported.

The magnificent grey who so memorably landed the Badger Ales Trophy, Hennessy Gold Cup and King George VI Chase in a glorious spell of action in late 1998, was 25 years old.

The news of his passing came from the Jockey Club’s Facebook page which announced: “So long Teeton Mill, who died last week at the age of 25.”

Starting his racing career as a hunter chaser, the magnificent almost-white gelding won his first four races before meeting with a rare reversal when facing the top class Double Thriller at Cheltenham, in a hunter chase of rare vintage in April 1998. He succumbed to the up and coming star by 12 lengths and remarkably, 11 months later, both horses, now in the professional ranks, were major contenders going into the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

By the time of his first defeat, Teeton Mill had transferred to the stable of up and coming trainer Venetia Williams. He quickly made amends with a dominant success in Stratford’s Horse and Hound Cup, beating Grimley Gale by 7 lengths, with former champion hunter Double Silk beaten a distance.

The 9 year old continued to develop over the summer and the next autumn undertook a meteoric rise through the chasing ranks in the colours of The Winning Line.

He started off with a sparkling 8 length demolition of Menesonic in the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton in November 1998. Three weeks later, with only 10 stone 5 pounds on his back, he turned the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury into a procession, slamming Eudipe by 15 lengths with a performance that instantly cast him into the role of potential superstar.

The acid test came in desperate conditions at a very wet Kempton Park on Boxing Day. Here Teeton Mill took on the very best runners in the King George VI Chase, with his rivals including Gold Cup winner Imperial Call, future Gold Cup winner See More Business, the top class Escartefigue and Challenger Du Luc.

Teeton Mill and Norman Williams turned the race into a one-horse show on the final circuit, with a series of spring-heeled leaps as one by one, his rivals cried enough in the testing conditions. Turning into the straight there was only one horse in contention as Teeton Mill pulverised his rivals, beating Escartefigue by 6 lengths, with a distance back to the third, Imperial Call. Here indeed was a super star.

In February Williams dropped the grey significantly down in trip for his Gold Cup warm-up in the 2 miles, 3 ½ furlong Ascot Chase. Once again the grey proved a cut above his rivals despite the sharp trip, beating that other popular grey Senor El Betrutti by 4 lengths.

Teeton Mill headed to Cheltenham a warm second favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, topped only by the exciting Irish raider and two-time Cheltenham Festival winner Florida Pearl. However, before a circuit had been completed there was huge drama. Racing down the hill for the first time the horse sadly broke down with a serious hock tendon injury and was immediately pulled up.

It proved to be a career ending injury and having been officially retired in February of the following year, he returned to the Saunders family for many years.

Speaking to us for a Racing UK feature a few years ago, Venetia William remembered Teeton Mill fondly: “He joined us in the April, but it was in his early autumn work that we realised he was something special and his ascent was meteoric,” Williams recalled.

“Both he and Lady Rebecca competed at the highest level for us and it was a deep sadness that Teeton’s career with us lasted under a year. He was fantastic,” she concluded.