Born on the 4th June 1948, Bob Champion is one of the most famous jump jockeys that ever graced the sport and is most fondly remembered by racegoers for riding Aldaniti to victory in the 1981 Grand National. So notable was Champion’s career that his autobiography would be made into a film with John Hurt playing the lead role.
Champion is a proud Yorkshireman, who overcame great adversity earlier in life, beating testicular cancer to return to a successful racing career. This was the backstory to the great man’s career that made his subsequent triumphs so compelling and heartwarming. His win on Aldaniti saw him also named as BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1981.
Though the 1981 win defined Champion’s career, it wasn’t his only success in jump racing as he also won the Whitbread Trial Chase and the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup in is time as a jockey. He would remain in the sport as a trainer until his retirement in 1999.
Bob Champion, now 69, has been given many awards for his success in racing, not least the OBE he received in 1982 and the Helen Rollason Award at the 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony. He was also featured on This Is Your Life in the year of his Grand National win, with Eamonn Andrews walking in to surprise him with his big red book.
Though not the most successful jockey in terms of winners, Bob Champion was and still is a colourful figure in the sport of horse racing. He is someone who has inspired millions across the world with his life story and his triumphs in the face of great personal challenges, serving as a role model for young jockeys everywhere.
Without the likes of Robert Champion OBE, the horseracing world just wouldn’t be the same.