Bob Champion – Legendary Jockey and Entertaining After-Dinner Speaker.
Champion’s passion for horses began after an introduction to hunting by his young sister, Mary. It was a passion that saw him win his first race at a Point-to-Point on ‘Holmcourt’ at the age of just 15.
Injuries are an occupational hazard to jockeys, broken ankles, concussion, dislocated thumbs and worse, along with hours spent in saunas and food deprivation, to lose those vital pounds, is all part of the job and par for the course.
It seemed nothing frightened Bob Champion – until he was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 31 and given just eight months to live unless he underwent revolutionary new chemotherapy treatment.
By this time he had won upwards of 350 races and had never felt fitter, making the diagnosis even harder to accept. Reluctantly he underwent surgery to remove one of his testicles, as well as part of a rib to allow access to the centre of his chest where the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes.
During his treatment, Bob had clung on to his dream of one day winning The Grand National, on his favourite horse, ‘Aldaniti’…. and that dream came true.
In 1981, watched by an estimated 750 million people worldwide, Bob Champion, rode ‘Aldaniti’ to Grand National victory.
After the race Bob issued this statement: “I rode this race for all the patients in the hospital. And for all the people who look after them. My only wish is that my winning shows them that there is always hope and that all battles can be won. I just hope it will encourage others to face their illness with fresh spirit.”
In 1986 The Bob Champion Cancer Research Unit opened within the Royal Marsden Hospital.
Bob is available to deliver after-dinner speeches, race nights and much more.