Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Reet Champion sithee......

...or in literal English....right champion see you...but in the dialect of the north of England it means well done, or didn't things turn out well?

Last evening I sat down and watched the early 80's movie Champions and as usual I ended up with a happy tear in my eye.

The film, which stars John Hurt, together with a glorious array of actors, tells the story of the jockey Bob Champion and his amazing horse Aldiniti...If you do watch the movie a does show snippets of horses falling, which every year prompts a call for the Grand National race to be stopped....

Legendary jockey Bob Champion overcame impossible odds to achieve his dreams. His determination and dedication continue to inspire athletes many years after his Grand National win.

True sporting legends are usually made, not born. A few greats have been destined for fame since birth though. Bob Champion is one of these natural-born legends, but his courage and dedication are the qualities for which he is most admired.

In 1979, Bob Champion was diagnosed with testicular cancer. In true Champion fashion, Bob refused to believe that his doctors were correct. He stubbornly insisted that there was a mistake in the diagnosis.

The diagnosis wasn't wrong. Doctors gave Champion a maximum of eight months to live, with only a 40 percent chance of survival. Things looked grim, but he was given a second chance. An extremely aggressive program of chemotherapy, if begun immediately, might just beat the odds. Champion agreed to begin the treatment the very same day.

Unfortunately, Champion's treatment had not been easy on his body. A large-scale infection nearly claimed his life and he was forced to put off his Grand National ambitions temporarily.

Champion was soon recovering from his various hardships and back in training. In 1981, he rode Aldaniti in the Grand National. The two were a perfect pair: both hard-working, stubborn and recovering from serious health problems. Champion's cancer and Aldaniti's three leg injuries caused almost everyone to speculate that the team wouldn't get near the winner's circle.

The two survivors melded on the Aintree Racecourse that April day in 1981. Their victory is one of the most memorable and emotional moments ever to be recorded in horse racing. Coming in four-and-a-half lengths ahead of the competition, Champion and Aldaniti beat the odds and made history.

After his Grand National championship, Bob Champion continued to race and win until 1983. By that time, he had approximately 500 wins to his credit. After leaving racing, he focused his energy on training horses and running the Bob Champion Cancer Trust. The charity has raised millions of pounds for cancer research and Champion continues to raise funds for it to this day.

Although Aldaniti died in 1997 and Bob Champion retired from training horses in 1999, they are both legends of the horse racing world. Their legacy is a sense of hope for all those who follow in their paths. They taught us that, even when things look desperate, success is just over the next fence for those who choose to make the jump.

The inspirational soundtrack is by Carl Davis.


  1. A wonderful testament to the human spirit.

  2. Morning Michael,

    A great film, yes, and a great lesson.

  3. We have a comparable story in the US about the racehorse Seabiscut and his jockey. Thanks for alerting to this film.

  4. Thanks for your remarks on my blog. Watching the horse races every Saturday afternoon at our house was a given. I would never ever ever bet on a race, but I love watching horses run, and reading about them and watching film about them. Have you read Jane Smiley's book "Horse Heaven?" Wonderful story. What was not comparable in the stories is that our jockey was fighting a career-ending injury, your jockey was fighting for his very life.