Champion night for charity

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A RACING legend who overcame cancer to ride to victory in the Grand National is heading to a local pub as part of his charity campaign.

Bob Champion MBE, who won the 1981 Grand National on Aldaniti, will be at Trimdon Colliery and Deaf Hill Workingmen’s Club on Wednesday, March 21.

He will front a race night which aims to raise money for The Bob Champion Cancer Trust.

Club chairman Stephen Gillan said: “He has raised over £100,000 for his cancer trust.

“It’s brilliant news that he has chosen our club, we are absolutely chuffed and it’s a great boost.

“Most people have seen the film about his life – he is a hero. “How many times are you going to see a jockey who won the Grand National and fought cancer, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Bob is also placing a bet on Grand National day in the club’s name and the John Smith-backed club that raises the most money for the trust will be named the winner.

The legendary former jump jockey, who was born in Guisborough in 1948, won his first race aged just 15.

Following a spell on the racing circuit in America, he returned to Britain, where he had dreams of winning the Grand National.

He raced in the steeplechase eight times after returning to Britain, always keeping his eyes on the big prize.

But his career and life took a major detour on the way to fulfilling his dreams when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1979.

Due to sheer determination, he defied medics’ advice and he set his sights on winning the 1980 Grand National.

Unfortunately, Bob’s treatment had not been easy on his body.

A large-scale infection nearly claimed his life and he was forced to put off his ambitions temporarily.

But he was soon back in training and in 1981, he rode Aldaniti to victory, despite speculation that the pair would fail due to Bob’s cancer and three leg injuries for the horse.

Bob’s remarkable feats were the subject of a 1983 film called Champions, which starred John Hurt.

The charity night at the pub, in The Square, Trimdon Station, which was previously a favourite haunt of ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, will run from 7.30pm and the £1 entry fee will go straight to charity.