Grand National hero and charity legend, Bob Champion MBE is a charismatic man, he smiles, he laughs and can tell a story or two with ease. As an ambassador for the Liverpool International Horse Show, Tim Smith caught up with him to find out more.
Champion’s Winning Ways!
Mention the Grand National and those extra special year’s and 1981 has to go down as one that made history when Bob won on Aldaniti after overcoming cancer.
Thus followed the setting up of the Bob Champion Cancer Trust which has gone on to raise more than £15 million, establish two research facilities and keep Bob extremely busy promoting and supporting the cause.
With so much of his life steeped in the history and heritage that is Aintree and the Grand National, Bob was an obvious choice when Nina Barbour, founder and the inspiration behind Liverpool International Horse Show was looking for new ambassadors for the event.
Bob came on board to support the Ride into Liverpool, part of the promotional platform for the 2016 event which saw Bob join a team of more than 50 celebrities and riders make their way to the Echo Arena on horseback to celebrate the launch that year.
Says Bob: “I was blown away by last year’s show, it really does have everything and is a fantastic event to take all the family to.
“From the very best show jumping to Shetland Pony Grand National, FMX motorbike stunt display team, and new this year top-level music to dressage, it is just amazing.
“With fantastic music this year from the Rick Parfitt Jnr band it certainly is going to be a show to remember and as the show finishes on New Year’s Eve this time round, it really will be a great celebration on the final evening of the event.”
During the interview Bob recounted the many happy days he enjoyed when racing for the Josh Gifford team and the support they gave him through his illness.
“I was very fortunate that when I came down with cancer Josh said my job would always be there and he kept to his word when I started to feel well enough and recover,” said Bob.
“Josh’ wife Althea was a top show jumper in her time so the horses were always very well-schooled and it was really just my job to steer and go with them.
“At the end of 1980 there was a meeting at Ascot where everything came together after the horses had lost a bit of form due to a virus.
“We had two big wins and then over the Christmas period came home with seven winners and two seconds, which made us all smile.
“After Aldaniti’s win in the Whitbread Trial we went to the Grand National as favourite and I am very pleased to say after a couple of minor mishaps early on in the race he just kept jumping and was always in the right place at the right time.
“Yes without doubt Liverpool has a special place in my heart and to have the Bob Champion Cancer Trust as the chosen charity for the Shetland Pony Grand National at the Liverpool International Horse Show is brilliant.
“For anyone wanting a festive or New Year celebration there’s no better place to be.”
This year’s Liverpool International Horse Show will see a host of leading names in action from December 29 to 31, at The Echo Arena on Liverpool’s iconic waterfront.
For further information visit www.liverpoolhorseshow.com