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Cheltenham Et Al: The Best of Alastair Down

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Finance is provided by PayPal Credit (a trading name of PayPal UK Ltd, Whittaker House, Whittaker Avenue, Richmond-Upon-Thames, Surrey, United Kingdom, TW9 1EH). It didn’t make for easy viewing; you wouldn’t be able to have it now, the public wouldn’t stand for it. Cheltenham et Al offers a generous collection of his very best columns, providing the Down angle on the great horses, jockeys and trainers; the famous races which remain indelibly in the sport’s collective memory; the controversies; the laughs – in short, the highs and the lows of racing. 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.

In the old days you could muck about with them and get there because of the weight range of handicap was two stone and now that’s 4 or 5lbs, so it’s got to be the one that wins with a little bit ‘up its sleeve’ but they’ve all got ones, twos, threes and fours, whereas in the old days you could have six and you wouldn’t be put off if you thought that the man who trained them had the ‘brass neck’ to do it. I have seen it grow up alongside me, heard its laughter, felt its tears, revelled in its affections and, as you do with those you love, forgiven plenty of shortcomings and the days it let you down. Well I love jump racing in particular but my favourite four days of the year is definitely Cheltenham. 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. At the top of the hill all the dreams are still alive, the triumphs and tragedies of the long swoop down and hard haul up the hill to victory yet to unfold before the rapt ranks in the stands.His son Peter was a champion jockey – and now runs a successful stable in Scotland with his partner Lucida Russell. they have to organise all the staff and all the equipment - I mean Eisenhower spent less time planning the D-Day landings than Elliot and Mullins would have done to get those horses over here fit and well…. 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!

Thank you so much for sparing the time to chat and I'm sure The Festival will not disappoint, providing it's usual dose of wonderful fairytales. The dust jacket of this book is slightly damaged/ripped, however, this does not affect the internal condition.Alastair Down on the Cheltenham Festival: 'To go there and stand witness to extraordinary events is a rare and wonderful act of being at one with your fellow clutterers of the planet . One particular piece on being snowed in and the need for essentials of life ("gaspers") made me cry with laughter when first written in the old weekender and I was delighted to see it.

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