The Little Books of Cheltenham And The Grand National

LBO

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THE LITTLE BOOK OF CHELTENHAM:

For fans, National Hunt racing has only one home: Cheltenham. The racecourse, which occupies a perfect natural amphitheatre with Cleeve Hill as a dramatic backdrop, is frequently described as “the theatre of dreams”. This is the Official publication made in association with The Jockey Club, owners of the course.

The four-day Festival in March has become the pinnacle of ambition for trainers, jockeys and owners. To win there is everything. For punters, months of speculating, planning and wagering climax in fortunes won or lost. Horse-lovers watch, hearts racing, as their favourites soar over the birch and gallop up the famous hill to the finish. The passion expressed in the roar as the tapes go up for the first race of the meeting epitomises how they all feel about Cheltenham.

The Little Book of Cheltenham explores the history of this iconic racecourse and charts its progression from the first Gold Cup – runin 1819 – to the 2014 redevelopment. From Golden Miller, Arkle and Vincent O’Brien to Best Mate, Ruby Walsh and Sam Waley-Cohen, we meet some of the characters – equine and human – who have become Cheltenham heroes, and go behind the scenes to discover how the heart of jumping racing operates.

THE LITTLE BOOK OF THE GRAND NATIONAL:

The Grand National is the most famous horse race in the world. Officially first run in 1839 it is now watched in 140 countries on television with viewing figures of more than 500 million.

Run in early April at Aintree, Liverpool, this spectacular steeplechase over 30 fearsome fences and four and a half miles has had a history filled with drama. In the first running a Captain Becher fell into the ditch which now bears his name. In 1956 the Queen Mother’s Devon Loch looked set to win, ridden by future thriller writer Dick Francis in the saddle, only to belly flop, legs akimbo, yards from the line. In 1967 there was a pile- up at the fence before the Canal Turn allowing 100/1 outsider Foinavon to come through to win.

In the 1970s, when the future of the race looked seriously in doubt, the three amazing wins by Red Rum re-engaged the public, and who can forget the emotional victory of cancer survivor Bob Champion and Aldaniti in 1981? The ’National has thrown up some great characters such as the Spanish nobleman the Duke of Albuquerque and English racing journalist Lord Oaksey.

In the history of the race, the largest number of runners was an enormous field of 66 and the fewest to finish was just two. In 1993 a starting fiasco resulted in the race being declared null and void and, only four years later, it was postponed by a bomb scare and was run on the following Monday.

Little Book of the Grand National tells all these tales, illustrated with great contemporary pictures and photographs.

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