GRAND NATIONAL hero Bob Champion is one of a handful of racing figures to be awarded a New Year Honour.
The former-jockey made a heroic recovery from cancer before partnering Aldaniti to success in the biggest race of all.
And the 1981 champ is set to be awarded a CBE for his charity work in prostate and testicular cancer research.
His cancer trust has raised £15million since it was founded in 1983, two years after the jockey won the world’s greatest steeplechase on Aldaniti at Aintree.
Champion smiled: “I’m absolutely chuffed to death. It was a big surprise to me.
“I got an MBE quite a long time ago, when I won the National, but this is for my cancer trust.
“It’s for everybody that works and has been involved in it and for the people that have supported it through the years.
“They have done so much for me, racing especially, and we’ve got the two research laboratories up and running – and they are doing a great job. We’ve got to keep raising the money to run them. Science costs money.”
Champion recalled how the cancer trust came to be set up, soon after his and Aldaniti’s famous victory.
He added: “When I won the National quite a lot of people backed me and they sent their winnings to the Royal Marsden Hospital, care of me.
“Nick Embiricos, Aldaniti’s owner, and Professor Peckham, my specialist, thought it would be a good idea to set something up.
“Then quite a lot more money came in, so we thought we’d better start being professional. We went from there, and we’ve raised a lot of money.”
There is also recognition in the New Year Honours list for Nick Rust, the outgoing chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority – who has received an OBE for services to the sport.
During his tenure, he has dealt with a range of issues – including significant change in the Levy, a review of the buying and selling of horses, improvements to horse welfare, the challenge of increasing diversity and inclusion and, this year of course, a pathway through the coronavirus pandemic which halted racing’s calendar for two months in spring and early summer.
Racecourse Association chairman Maggie Carver has been awarded a CBE, while former Professional Jockeys Association chairman Nigel Payne is to be made an MBE.
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