Monday 25 June 2018

Bob Champion

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.

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Ruby Walsh

Born Rupert Walsh in County Kildare on the 14th May 1979, the affectionately named ‘Ruby’ is a highly decorated jump jockey with a list of achievements as long as it is impressive. He has been Irish National Hunt Champion jockey no less than 12 times and the leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival almost every year since 2004, only failing to claim the honour twice in that period.

He is the son of amateur champion jockey, Ted Welsh and he showed exceptional talent at an early age, twice winning the Irish amateur title in 1997 and 1998, shortly before he became a professional.

Grand National Champion

The promise he showed an as amateur would continue, as he claimed his first major prize, winning the Grand National on Papillon at the tender age of 20. The Mrs J Maxwell Moran owned horse was trained by his father and the achievement was even more notable given that it was his very first ride in the National. Ruby Walsh has won this blue ribbon event once since, triumphing on Hedgehunter in 2006.

It has not all be glitz and glory for Ruby, as he has endured a number of major injuries over the years, with the most serious being the broken leg he sustained in 1999, racing in the Czech Republic. Added to that was another break of the same leg, shortly before his success with Papillon. This succession of personal injuries has thankfully done nothing to dull the his passion for the sport, as he has seemed to come back stronger on each occasion.

Fame and Fortune

A glittering career that has still considerable time to run has propelled Ruby Walsh firmly into the public eye, with the jockey featuring on a TV documentary about jump jockeys and in a song by Christy Moore aptly named “The Ballad of Ruby Walsh”.

There isn’t much that Walsh still left to achieve, but with a hat trick of Grand National winners to aim for, its unlikely we’ll see him retiring any time soon.