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Cheltenham Et Al: The Best of Alastair Down

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For over thirty 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. I first went to the Festival actually when I was 19 and a friend of dads had a wonderful box which he couldn’t use. No missing or damaged pages, no creases or tears, no underlining or highlighting of text, and no writing in the margins.

On Frankel's last race: 'There were tears speckling the cheers, because there is something almost inexplicably humbling about being in the presence of greatness of this magnitude.The thing that’s changed, in my lifetime is that if you went to Cheltenham when you were young, little yards won lots of races, so it was great and it gave the meeting added flavour. Describe all the feelings the Festival bound jockeys, trainers and owners experience as this week approaches?

I loved Yorkshire – and Yorkshire people – and I found all the stereotypes to be completely false,” said Down who chose to live at Buttercrambe near Stamford Bridge because of its closer proximity to Malton’s gallops, the region’s racecourses – and the road to jump racing’s spiritual home in the Cotswolds. 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. Alastair combines his love of National Hunt Racing with a very pieces that have amused me for years. Everybody just loves it and they block those days off in the calendar – for those few days in the year, where we all join together in something we absolutely love and once you’ve been you will absolutely be bitten!

It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Champion Hurdle or one of the handicaps because the handicaps are contested with a ferocity and usually at a pace that is kind of frightening to watch - and they just go off like hell out of the night; so much so, that we’ve had changes in the field sizes in recent years. Discover the joy of reading with us, your trusted source for affordable books that do not compromise on quality. In 1935 Down had qualified as an officer and was commissioned into the 7th/9th Battalion, Royal Scots. As Down freely admitted to The Yorkshire Post: “I am one of those people who have been lucky enough to pursue a passion for a living – and be paid for it. It didn’t make for easy viewing; you wouldn’t be able to have it now, the public wouldn’t stand for it.

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