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Cheltenham Et Al: The Best of Alastair Down

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On recovering after an over-indulgent day at Longchamp: ‘I just wish to be left alone with my thoughts and sincere hopes that my liver, which I mailed home by separate refrigerated container, will arrive soon. I met him a few times a very long time ago as I had horses with Jim Old in his glory days with Mole Board and Collier Bay and Alastair also had a share in one there. In Double Trigger they meet in a chemistry that the old alchemists sought unavailingly for generations,” wrote Down. For over 30 years Alastair Down has written about horseracing with an unrivalled cocktail of wit, insight, passion and descriptive power - a combination which has brought him legions of enthusiastic readers, both within and beyond the racing world. My dad, who was a meek, mild and delightful man, was a five Shilling punter on a Saturday who worked in the City of London.

And I was hooked from then - not on just the betting though; I used to sit on the arm of dad’s armchair - and dads are heroes to their sons and he was a man of infinite charm and kindness - he loved racing and in turn, I loved it in his wake I guess. It had to be – its students at the time also included one Edward Gillespie who later became Cheltenham Racecourse’s managing director and took the National Hunt Festival to new heights.Wherever this broadcast was coming from, I don't know, but I watched the whole meeting daring not to touch the remote control! 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!

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.

His knowledge of racing comes from a deep love of the sport, both the equine and human counterparts. 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. Following an unsuccessful stint running a betting syndicate after graduating, Down became a form analyst before being invited to apply for a job on The Sporting Life in 1981. As he passed the post, I hoarsely borrowed a few quid from a mate and we went to the bar to fusillade a few corks.

Nicky Henderson, God bless him, used to be unspeakable to almost in late February; he’s got much calmer now but the pressure of handling a big team for important people in our game, going into the meeting, these pressures are intense and you are looking for the slightest thing to go wrong which it inevitably does. Whether you're looking for a book on the history of racing, a calendar to mark your race days, or a notebook to keep track of your bets, we have something for you.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.

Colonel Sir Alastair Frederick Down OBE MC TD (23 July 1914 – 22 October 2004) was a Scottish army officer, accountant, and oilman. To help personalise content, tailor your experience and help us improve our services, Betfair uses cookies. I don’t really have major fancies for the big races, I tend to play in the handicaps, and every runner remember, has been planning to win these races for eight or nine months. Down commanded a platoon in the Battle of Sidi Barrani in December 1940 and lost his right eye in the engagement.

It was the Queen Mother’s fault; she came into the paddock and everyone started applauding so it went 3 feet up in the air and landed smack on its arse!

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