Profile: Aintree Legends Charity Race for the Bob Champion Cancer Trust

Bob Champion and Aldaniti entered Aintree folklore in 1981 as the pair recorded one of the most unlikely victories in the history of the John Smith’s Grand National. Champion had been given only a 40 percent chance of living after being diagnosed with cancer two years earlier, while Aldaniti experienced such a catalogue of injuries that connections believed he would never race again.

This year, to mark the 30th anniversary of that fairytale success, Aintree Racecourse is hosting a special one-off contest, the Aintree Legends Charity Race, supported by John Smith’s.Proceeds will go to the Bob Champion Cancer Trust, which was founded in 1983 and has so far raised £12 million, which is approximately£400,000 for every fence of the Grand National that Bob and Aldaniti jumped.

The race will be run on the Flat over a mile and five furlongs at the beginning of John Smith’sGrand National day, Saturday, April 9. The jockeys consist of 10 Grand National winning riders as well as two legends of the weighing room.

Graham Thorner enjoyed one of his finest moments in the saddle when partnering Well To Do to victory in the 1972 Grand National.The son of a Somerset farmer, Thorner spent his entire riding career as stable jockey to Oxfordshire trainer Captain Tim Forster and was champion jockey for the 1970/71 season with 74 winners. He went on to train. Thorner was also heavily involved with the 1980 winner Ben Nevis as he advised successful jockey, amateur rider Charlie Fenwick, about how to tackle the Grand National fences. A merchant banker and then a car dealer, Fenwick became only the second American to win the world’s greatest chase and the amateur also took one of the most prestigious chases in the USA, the Maryland Hunt Cup, five times.

Ben de Haan will forever be associated with Corbiere’s success in the 1983 Grand National,whose trainer Jenny Pitman became the first women to send out the winner of the famous race. De Haan took out a training licence after retiring from the saddle in 1993.

Hywel Davies made an extraordinary recovery to partner Last Suspect to win the 1985 Grand National. The jockey was so seriously injured after a fall at Doncaster in February, 1984,that his heart failed seven times on the way to hospital. Davies went on to record 762 wins in a career that spanned 17 years before his retirement in 1994. He is still involved in the sport and acts as a commentator on Welsh language channel S4C, while his son James has continued the family tradition by becoming a successful jockey.

Brendan Powell broke his arm on his first Grand National ride in 1987 but the Irishman returned the following year for a storming success on Rhyme ‘N’ Reason. Powell hung up his boots in 2000 after 648 wins and has since gone on to enjoy further notable success as a trainer, with more than 400 winners to his name over jumps and on the Flat.

Little Polveir provided Jimmy Frost with his finest hour in the saddle as the pair beat West Tip by seven lengths in 1989. The son of a trainer, Frost became the youngest-ever winner of a point-to-point aged just 13 and the “PeterPan of the weighing room” was still riding competitively 30 years later. He took over hisfather’s yard in 2002, while his son Hadden has established himself as a leading jockey.

Marcus Armytage (pictured below) became the latest of 41 amateur jockeys to win the Grand National when scoring in record time on Mr Frisk in 1990. The son of trainer Roddy and brother to trailblazing female rider Gee, Armytage rode 100 winners and the old Etonian is a racing journalist with The Daily Telegraph.

Carl Llewellyn joined the elite club of jockeys who have ridden two Grand National winners when he partnered Earth Summit to victory in1998, adding to success on Party Politics six years earlier. After a career that included just shy of 1,000 winners, Llewellyn spent three years as salaried trainer to Malcolm Denmark before joining up as business partner with trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, to whom he was stable jockey for many seasons.

Tony Dobbin gave Lord Gyllene a superb ride when making all of the running to triumph in the 1997 Grand National and the Ulsterman became one of racing’s most successful jockeys with nearly 1,200 winners to his name. Since retiring from the saddle in 2008, Dobbin has assisted his trainer wife Rose, who herself rode 100 winners as an amateur.

Jim Culloty picked up the winning ride on Bindaree in the 2002 Grand National after the chaser’s intended jockey Jamie Goldstein broke his leg four days before the race. The son of an accountant from Killarney, Culloty is best remembered as a jockey for his three Cheltenham Gold Cup victories on the brilliant Best Mate. He retired in July, 2005, and took out a licence to train in Ireland shortly afterwards.

Despite gaining the champion jockeys’ title on eight occasions, Peter Scudamore’s best effort in the Grand National came in 1985, when he finished third on the 1983 winner Corbiere. The son of 1959 Grand National-winning jockey Michael, Scudamore broke numerous records in a glittering career, including 1,678 winners as well as 221 successes in a single season. He helped present the BBC’s coverage of the Grand National for several years and now assists his partner, Scottish trainer Lucinda Russell.Scudamore’s son Tom is a top-class jockey,while another son Michael is now training.

A great Irish jump jockey of recent times,Charlie Swan also endured a wretched record in the John Smith’s Grand National, with fifth place on Lastofthebrownies in 1990 being the highlight. Swan monopolised the Irish jockeys’championship between 1988 and 1998,and is particularly remembered in Britain for his partnership with the outstanding hurdler Istabraq. The County Tipperary trainer will be bidding for a unique double, having won a legends’ race at Doncaster’s St Leger Meeting in September.

Bob Champion will be heavily involved on the day alongside last year’s John Smith’s GrandNational-winning trainer Jonjo O’Neill as official ambassadors of the Aintree Legends Race. Leading former jockeys Mick Fitzgerald and Richard Dunwoody, involved with the BBC coverage of the John Smith’s Grand National meeting, will also play a part.

Mark Given, Brands Director at Heineken UK,brand owner of John Smith’s, said: “We are very pleased to support the Bob Champion Cancer Trust and I’m sure the Aintree Legends Race will make an excellent contribution to the JohnSmith’s Grand National day card. The race has already attracted a fascinating line-up of jockeys and the spirit of the event ties in well with the John Smith’s Grand National Legends campaign launched last year. ”

Thanks to the excellent Racenews for the original copy

22 Celebrity Yankees to choose from in the inaugural Twitter Tipster Trophy charity challenge

We invited the racing professionals on Twitter to send us their best four bets in the form of a Yankee.  The horse nominated first in each group is that person’s nap.

Iain Turner, PR guru for and racing manager for horses like Walkon and Mille Chief, very kindly agreed to put up a prize of a charity bet with on the John Smith’s Grand National of £250 to the winning tipster – £500 if all 4 horses are successful in the winning Yankee.

So, here they are.  Good luck and thanks to all who entered.

Respected journalist and broadcaster of long standing Mike Vince offers his four:

Hurricane Fly,

So Young

Long Run

I’m Singing the Blues

Four from the man who brought twitter terror to the turf layers with Tenor Nivernais, Richard Hoiles

Tenor Nivernais Fred Winter

Big Bucks Stayers

Big Zeb QM

Habbie Simpson Albert Bartlett

From James Knight, Coral odds guru, racehorse owner and journalist:

Sparky May David Nicholson, Mares Race

Grands Crus World Hurdle

Wymott RSA

Wishfull Thinking Jewson

Head of Communications at the British Horseracing Authority, Paul Struthers offers these . . .

Dunguib Champion Hurdle

Rock Noir Arkle

Kalahari King Ryanair

Get Me Out Of Here County

Simon Rowlands, Timeform’s Head of Research/Handicapping, nominates his four (you’ll note the CAPS on his nap):


Cue Card Supreme Novices’, Tues

Time For Rupert RSA Chase, Weds

Shoreacres J Henderson, Fri.

From Simon Walton, founder and MD of ProForm Racing

Big Bucks World Hdle

Peddlers Cross Champion Hdle

Zarkandar Triumph Hdle

Woolcombe Folly Queen Mother

Phil Taylor, jockey’s valet of 25 years standing, sends us these:

Sparky May Mares

Cue Card Supreme

Medermit Arkle

Peddlers Cross Champion Hurdle

From Ian Robinson, syndicate Supremo who has won wtith 92.7% of the horses he’s bought including Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander.

Sprinter Sacre Supreme

First Lieutenant Neptune

Unaccompanied Triumph

Gagewell Flyer Albert Bartlett

A Yankee from the top team at The Racing Forum

Champion Hurdle – Binocular

Supreme Novices – Cue Card

RSA Chase – Time For Rupert

Ryanair – Albertas Run

Robert Gibbs who authors the Becher’s Brook blog protests ‘I’m not a Celeb!’.  He is in my book having tipped half a dozen or so winners in the past few days, among them 66/1, 20/1 10/1. Robert specialises very successfully in the lower grade racing but happily has agreed to offer us this Yankee for the festival:

Maljimar x country

Cannington Brook NH chase (sub: Williams Wishes in the Grand Annual)

Realt Dubh Arkle

The Giant Bolster RSA

The highly esteemed Graham Cunningham of RUK fame and much battle-scarred elsewhere sends us these:

Big Zeb,



Grand Crus

Steve Mullington, Aintree fanatic, manic tweeter with a huge Blog following sends us his Yankee:

Ghizao Arkle

Kalahari King Ryanair

L’Ami Cross Country

Oh Crick Grand Annual

Cathryn Fry, freelance racing journalist and linch-pin of the Owners & Trainers reception at Aintree, offers these:

Hurricane Fly CH

Big Zeb QM

Plan A Fred Winter

On The Fringe-Foxhunter

Stats superstar Paul Jones, author of Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide

sent us these:



So Young

Dantes Storm

Eight-times champion jumps-jockey, Peter Scudamore tweeted this entry:

Plan A

Khyber Kim

Baby Run

Imperial Commander

Malcolm Boyle odds compiler, author, journalist and current columnist at and

Ghizao Arkle

Master Of The Hall RSA

Big Bucks World Hurdle

Imperial Commander Gold Cup

Top blogger Ian Dykes, our Wayward Lad comes into the festival on the back of a 14/1 winner on Saturday – his sole advice

GHIZAO for the Arkle.

PEDDLERS CROSS for the Champion Hurdle

For the Ryanair, POQUELIN


Highly respected trends and stats author and blogger

Ben Aitken, sends his selections:

Loosen My Load Jewson

Divers Centenary Chase

On The Fringe Foxhunters

Sir Des Champs M Pipe Conditional Hdl

Top Flat jock, James Millman has kindly sent us four:

Ghizao Arkle

Dunguib Champion

Kalahari King Ryanair

Grandouet Triumph

Tony Coleman, Paddy Power’s racecourse PRO in the UK and writer for Horse & Hound offers these wine-fuelled selections:

Some Target NH Ch

Great Endeavour Stewart Family Hcap Ch

The Giant Bolster RSA

Junior Kim Muir

Paddy Power’s democratic Studio Team got together to nominate 1 horse each in the following:

Big Bucks

Hurricane Fly

Cue Card

Sizing Europe

Good luck to all entrants and for taking the time to offer these, a big . . .

Eight-times Champ, Peter Scudamore recommends 4 for the festival

Scu is the 16th entrant trying to win a big charity bet from with his Yankee recommendation in the first ever Twitter Tipster Trophy Challenge.

You can see Scu’s bet along with all the other entries here. Just scroll down the page to the comments section.

Celebs, you have until midnight to enter and try and win up to £500 for a  charity bet on the John Smith’s Grand National.

Twitter Tipster Trophy Celeb charity selections: 13 Yankee entries already in

We already have selections from six of racing’s professionals and the competition does not close till midnight on Monday.

Sign up to Twitter Updates, or email updates (both on right side of this page) for news as  more entries are posted.

You can see current entries by clicking here and scrolling to the comments section at the bottom

Racing pro? Please enter by tweeting me your selections, nap mentioned first, or simply leave them as a comment on this page

Racing professionals, step up to the Twitter Tipster Trophy Challenge for a big charity bet prize

I know that many of you employed in racing, especially journalists and broadcasters, jockeys and trainers, PR reps for the major bookmakers et al, are admired by racing fans and your opinions eagerly sought at Preview Nights and by your Twitter followers.

This blog is now getting around 1,000 views a day and rising so there will be many who’d love to see your best bets for Cheltenham all in the one place.

If you’d like to tweet me your Festival Yankee, or, indeed, leave it below this article as a comment, along with your name, your fans can see your selections and perhaps have a bet themselves.

My good friend Iain Turner, PR Supremo at and form-superbrain, has kindly agreed to give the competition winner a free £250 charity bet – (£500  if picking all four winners) – on the John Smith’s Grand National.

I will provide a nice Trophy for the victor and I will keep this article updated with your selections as they come in by posting them in the comments section below.

The competition is open to anyone on Twitter who is professionally involved in racing, including owners. (I will tweet some personal invitations to the pros not following me).

Three rules:

Entries close at midnight on Monday 14th March

Please make the first horse mentioned in your tweet/comment your nap

Winner is the one with highest total return to a £1 stake Yankee on their selections at industry SP.

If no one gets two winners, the best priced nap (first selection mentioned) wins

Good luck, and to those brave enough to enter, a big  . . .

Cheltenham Preview Night, Oswestry, Summary of selections from Richard Johnson, Noel Fehily and others

Reproduced verbatim with the very kind permission of the author whose nom-de-plume is The Eye of Sauron. First published on The Racing Forum.

Run in conjunction with Let’s Live Racing by Oswestry Cricket Club- a very successful night and a substantial donation will be made to the IJF.

Here are my now transcribed notes. I wish I could write as quickly as I can drink, but there we go.

e & oe, as they say…..


RJ- Richard Johnson. Top Jockey and top bloke.
PJ- Paul Jones (author of the Weatherby’s Festival Betting Guide and who took over from Dicky at 9.30). Top trends and stats bloke.
PF- Paul Ferguson of Racing Ahead and his own NH Guide etc. Top Irish form bloke.
MW- Mark Winstanley. Couch of that ilk. Top curry eating bloke and trainee diplomat…..
NF- Noel Fehily. Top crocked jockey, and top crocked bloke, esp as he drove all the way from Swindon with his gammy arm, to Shropshire, (a good 3 hours) to do this for charity, and then drove all the way back.



Supreme Novices

MW- Cue Card should win but disagrees & will back Spirit Son.
PF- Cue Card for me though if coming over Megan’s Star ew.
RJ- Cue Card but keep eye on Dunraven Storm ew if good ground (which is likely)
NF- Cue Card. Al Ferof ew will be suited by a fast run race.


RJ- Captain Chris likely to go for the Jewson (though RJ would prefer Arkle) especially on faster ground. Ghizao needs soft ground.
NF- Agrees Ghizao needs it soft. Medermit.
MW- also against Ghizao. Medermit best bet on Day 1 and will shorten on the day.
PF- Between Medermit and Finian’s Rainbow; Medermit as the classier hurdler.

Champion Hurdle

RJ- Menorah; stronger this year.
PF- Hurricane Fly is better on better ground. No negatives about Menorah.
NF- Binocular on good ground. Hurricane Fly jumps right handed. Peddlers Cross if GTS.
MW- Quiet fancy for Oscar Whiskey but Binocular is the one, with A Thousand Stars a big ew chance at big odds.

Spinal Research Chase

MW- Great Endeavour
RJ- Quinz won’t run. Emotional Bob runs in the 4 miler
PF- Great Endeavour & Reve De Sivola
PJ- Sunnyhillboy- strong fancy.


RJ- Likes Rougham, a front runner in a 24 runner handicap, will be hard to make all in tat.
MW- Also Great Endeavour, but nb Quantitaveasing and Aigle D’Or, but back NRNB as entered in more than one race.
PF- Tullamore Dew- has course form



MW- Bob’s Worth. Minella Star won’t run.
NF- Not fancy Rock On Ruby. Oscar’s Well as Irish form is stronger. Bob’s Worth needs cut.
PF- Irish form stronger, So Young the pick from Oscars Well & First Lieutenant.
RJ- Megastar may run in this race, but prefer Bob’s Worth.

RSA Chase

RJ- Time For Rupert is the banker of the meeting. Wants Wishfull Thinking to run in this but may be outvoted. Will get the trip and if running a great ew bet. 1833 loves a bit galloping track.
NF- 1833 will only run on soft, so not a certain runner.
PF- Irish form not as strong. Jessie’s Dream too short. Mikael DH is the most talented but been disappointing and may need to go right handed. Time For Rupert by default.
MW- Time For Rupert – form in book, end of.

Champion Chase

NF- Master Mnded but only if soft- now needs juice. If Good or GTF- Big Zeb. Can’t have Somersby. Maybe Sizing Europe ew. Woolcombe Folly has a long way to go and needs top of the ground.
MW- Doesn’t like Somersby, but does like Woolcombe Folly if GTF. French Opera not without a chance but generally, look to the improvers. French Opera definitely going for this race, so lay it for the Grand Annual.
RJ- Somersby should be in the Ryanair- not quick enough. Big Zeb for me.
PF- Probably Big Zeb on good ground. Don’t rule out Mad Max ew.

No-one fancied Captain Cee Bee.

4 Miler

RJ- Beshabar will stay 5 miles. Jumps well
PF- Quel Esprit one of the bets of the meeting if pitching up in this.
NF- Born Again is a big price. ‘Has been looked after’.

Coral Cup

MW- Aegean Dawn & Psycho (latter from Irish connections)
NF- Don’t like For Non Stop- is priced based on his run against Grand Crus.
RJ- Duke Of Lucca, but needs good ground
PF- Aegean Dawn is a banker- and also back it for the RSA 2012!

Fred Winter

MW- Titan De Sarti has been working well at home. Also consider Kalinas
PF- Titan De Sarti and Plan A (Irish coup)
RJ- Architrave- Tim Vaughan’s stable under a cloud last time it ran
NF- A Media Luz


NF- Really impressed with Knights Pass- has the right temperament. Also Allure Of Illusion which will probably go off as fav.
RJ- Cheltenian; won well in a fast run race and this will suit. Doesn’t fancy Persian Snow, and Fingal Bay unlikely to run but will make a superb chaser.
PF- Knights Pass and doesn’t like Allure Of Illusion but there has been and will be serious money for it. Twigline maybe but best of Irish Raise The Beat.



MW- Poquelin (‘but is owned by a mate of mine’). Riverside Theatre is better right handed
NF- Poquelin- he is settling and jumping better. Riverside Theatre will not run. Weird Al has been working well at home after his wind op.
PJ- Kalahari King ew
PF- Kalahari King


RJ- Captain Chris probably going here. I would ride him over Wishfull Thinking given the choice as Capt C has stronger form especially on good ground.
MW- Mr. Gardner
PF- Hells Bay. Loosenmyload not without a chance on better ground.
PJ- Mr. Gardner
NF- Captain Chris if good ground. Henry De Bromhead likes Loosen My Load if good ground. Robinson Collonges needs a flatter track.

World Hurdle

PJ- Big Bucks, but Mourad far better ew bet than Grands Crus
MW- Big Bucks. Grands Crus needs soft ground, so Mourad is the bet without the fav.
NF- Big Bucks is a certainty. Solwhit ew if he stays, but I think he’ll get the trip.
PF- Big Bucks nailed on. Grands Crus needs soft ground. Solwhit is a class act at the price ew if he stays.

Pertemps Final

PJ- Chartreux- lightly raced, won sole bumper and best bet NRNB.
MW- Lush Life and Gwanako. What the hell is Barber Shop doing in this, but if he runs, who knows.

Festival Plate

PJ- Quantitativeasing or Aigle D’Or- take your pick as to which the JP plot will be. Keep an eye on Atouchbetweenacara.
NF- Aigle D’Or- has had wind op.
MW- Whatever JP runs.
PF- Tullamore Dew

Kim Muir

PF- Arabella Boy unless he goes for the 4 Miler. Check out Wolf Moon if he gets in.
PJ- Galant Nuit is the Ferdy Murphy plot horse this year, and if Nina rides, get on. Junior merits interest if he goes for the race.
MW- Also interested in Junior.


Triumph Hurdle

NF- Sam Winner- last race came too soon for him. Better fresh and it is not a great race this year.
PJ- If cut- Smad Place, but if not this could be a long priced winner this season (buy the race SP on the spreads).
MW- Sam Winner and Moose Moran (the latter NRNB)
PF- Sam Winner- a fair price. Watch out for A Media Luz at Aintree.

Albert Bartlett

PJ- Kilcrea Kim. And if NR, then Champion Court.
NF- Back In Focus. Impressed with him at Haydock.
MW- Sybarite
PF- Would back Back In Focus but needs cut. Probably Westmeath of Paul Nolan’s.

Gold Cup

PF- Prefers Imperial Commander. Long Run too skinny and may not get 3m 2f.
NF- Prefer the older horses of which Denman is the pick.
MW- Can’t have Long Run who likes a flat track. Kempes is my pick but China Rock 66-1 ew is massive.
PJ- Long Run by default.

County Hurdle

RJ- Snap Tie

Grand Annual

PJ- Tanks For That. Laid out for the race.
MW- Tanks For That my nap of the meeting.

Naps Of The Meeting

PF- Time For Rupert
NF- Sam Winner
PJ- Medermit
MW- Tanks For That

A big

to The Eye of Sauron