herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Bob Champion was part of one of the most famous Grand National stories of them all with Aldaniti in 1981 and he is backing Tony McCoy to go out on a high at Aintree on Saturday.

Bob Champion was part of one of the most famous Grand National stories of them all with Aldaniti in 1981 and he is backing Tony McCoy to go out on a high at Aintree on Saturday.

Trained by Josh Gifford, Aldaniti was never the soundest of horses and needed to be nursed back to health by Gifford, with Champion's remarkable battle against cancer that saw him beat the disease and return to the saddle subsequently being made into a film.

'Champions' starred John Hurt and for many years the theme tune was used in the BBC's coverage of the great race.

movie

If McCoy and Shutthefrontdoor are successful and the jockey who has won more races than anybody else in history retires on the spot, as he has said he will do, another racing movie might be in the offing.

"AP McCoy isn't a bad kid at all, is he, and I've got a sneaking suspicion he'll win on Saturday afternoon," said Champion.

"His mount, Shutthefrontdoor, is fresh, won the Irish National last year and is trained by Jonjo O'Neill, one of the very best and someone who's trained winners in these kinds of races before.

"If AP were to get the win, it'll be his last ever ride and nobody deserves to go out on such a high more than him. One last big winner isn't too much to ask from a rider of his quality and longevity.

"There's been a lot of talk about AP's career coming to an end and rightly so as he's been the stand out jockey of the last 20 years - and by some distance, too. There would be something ever so poetic about a dramatic but successful final act to that career at Aintree at the weekend. Nobody could begrudge him that."

Champion added: "Of course, with racing you never know what'll happen and, beyond AP, I think Balthazar King has a very good chance and Tom Scudamore could be real value for money on Soll. Sam Waley-Cohen has one of the best Aintree records and should be a good each-way bet (on 14-year-old Oscar Time).

"The weather's been great all week and the ground's drying out, which will be better for the race. Changes are forecast though but I really do hope the rain stays away for the race as it spoils it for everyone.

"The crowd have come to enjoy themselves and these are great horses that deserve to race on the best possible surface."

Promoted articles

Entertainment News