Cheltenham Et Al: The Best of Alastair Down

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Cheltenham Et Al: The Best of Alastair Down

Cheltenham Et Al: The Best of Alastair Down

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And, most poignantly of all, this is how Down described the cancer-stricken training genius Sir Henry Cecil when the incomparable Frankel won an unforgettable Juddmonte International two summers ago. But missing the Festival is unthinkable for one of the finest sports journalists of our time, and a man whose presence is still much missed by viewers of Channel 4 Racing. The ruddy-faced Down, who would use Channel Four’s ad breaks to smoke a cigarette to calm his nerves, does not miss his television role. Some time later I waddled down to the ring where the bookies were doing the last sortings of their satchels.

Upon the creation of British Petroleum in 1954, he was sent to Canada to set up the company's subsidiary, BP Canada, in part because of his experience on the general staff in the Canadian Army. It’s that competitive - there is nowhere else like it and as for the nerves and anticipation, even if this is my 45th year, I still feel a school kid, bonkers about it as I did as a child! The cover may have some limited signs of wear but the pages are clean, intact and the spine remains undamaged. On a quiet day, a few souls who share my blood, and some of those friends who truly understood why that blood was ever quickened in that place in the month when the hares go mad, will perform a simple ceremony.When I first used to go, or watch it on telly even before that, before the drainage systems went in, about 24/25 years ago, the horses would come up that hill in bad ground, as an Irish friend of mine says, “like snipe leaving the bog, weaving from side to side” - but a bit slower than snipe! This collection of articles from the Sporting Life and Racing Post are great memory joggers and add colour to back up pieces on old, famous and some obscure races and horses from Timeform and others. On his favourite racehorse: ‘I’ll still thump anyone who doesn’t appreciate that Rondetto was the greatest chaser of all time. Now a collection of his most evocative essays has been reproduced in a long-awaited book, The Best of Alastair Down: Cheltenham et Al, that is a faithful tribute to many of horse racing’s equine and human heroes. We are a passionate community of over 55,000 horse racing fans, commentators and industry professionals.

There is some cruelty in its beauty, it’s a very hard place and I have seen desperate tragedies to horse and human there and you know that those risks are being run on your behalf. And I think in his words, “As I descended the stairs the mumps descended about 2 feet down too” and he ended up with mumps where a man doesn’t want mumps which I think is quite painful apparently and it was the only moment in his life where his love for me wavered!

In response, it has been made shorter and with a smaller field, so therefore it has removed some of the ferocity but it has made it safer, a bit like the Grand National being made safer; fallers are kind of a rarity in the National now, whereas they were literally all over the place before. We do quite rightly regulate it against it these days, but it is still a question of trying to get there with 7lbs less on your back and that is becoming much more of a skill.

I imagine either Willie Mullins or Gordon Elliott which is hardly big news, I mean Gordon is running 60 horses and Willie will probably have 50. On his favourite racehorse: 'I'll still thump anyone who doesn ' t appreciate that Rondetto was the greatest chaser of all time.PPB Counterparty Services Limited, Betfair Casino Limited and PPB Entertainment Limited are licensed and regulated in Great Britain by the Gambling Commission under account numbers 39439, 39435 and 39426. Cheltenham has been made easier over the years and many, many more ways than it has been publicised - but rightly so, and we are still making innovations, like after last year’s four miler - which was a bit like the refute from Moscow but without Napoleon. From 1922 to 1927 he attended Edinburgh Academy, and from 1927 to 1932 attended Marlborough College. He then switched to the Racing Post stable, his current employers, while becoming one of the faces of Channel Four Racing until being deemed surplus to requirements nearly two years ago when many of the ‘old guard’ appeared to be ditched in favour of more photogenic presenters.



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