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Racing Legend: Bob Champion CBE


Discover Newmarket launches a series of Racing Legends Guided Tours  this autumn, kicking off with Bob Champion CBE. Here Stephen Wallis, from The Paddock and Pavilion Podcast, provides us with some facts about the legend.


  1. Bob was born on 4 June 1948 in Sussex. Members of his family had been professional huntsman for over two centuries so he was put on a pony almost as soon as he could walk. At ten he was riding to hounds. By 15, Bob was studying for an engineering diploma at Trowbridge Technical College, riding in point to points with his heart set on becoming a jockey.


  1. In August 1967 Bob joined trainer Toby Balding’s yard at Fyfield, near Andover as an amateur rider. On 17 January 1968 Bob rode his first winner, Altercation a 20/1 shot at Plumpton. In his first professional season 1968/69 he rode Toby Balding’s Highland Wedding to success in a major Grand National trial, the Eider Chase at Newcastle. One month later Eddie Harty rode Highland Wedding to victory in the Grand National.


  1. Bob’s first ride in the Grand National came in 1971 on Country Wedding. Sadly, for Bob, the small mare was brought down at the 1st fence by the previous year’s winner Gay Trip. In 1973 he completed the Grand National for the first time and finished 6th on the 100/1 outsider Hurricane Rock.


  1. Bob came third in the 1977/78 jockeys’ championship riding 56 winners. His first significant success came when he won the 1978 Hennessy Gold Cup, now the Coral Cup at Newbury on Approaching for his new trainer Josh Gifford.


  1. Less than six months later he rode Aldaniti to 3rd place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

To find out more about  Aldaniti, the horse that changed Bob’s life, why not book onto this very special guided tour with Bob Champion as narrator on Friday 13th October. This full day’s experience  includes a visit to the  Gallops, the National Horseracing Museum as well as a behind the scenes tour at the Rowley Mile Racecourse where you will then be left to enjoy an afternoon at the races. Click here to find out more and to book tickets.