Sport Big Buck's wins in 2012 at Cheltenham, where he returns on Saturday after missing last year

Big Buck’s is back. More than a year after effortlessly extending his unbeaten sequence to 18, the four-time World Hurdle winner returns to Cheltenham for the Cleeve Hurdle on trials day to great fanfare and the delight of everyone connected with the sport.

Sam Waley-Cohen rides Long Run to victory in the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury

Fluent Long Run silences (some) critics

On a day when tailbacks in and out of Newbury amply testified to the appeal of a free day at the races, plenty seemed eager enough to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Spotlight on: Bernard Arnault, Chairman, LVMH

Why is the "wolf in cashmere" back in the news?

Grands Crus is unbeaten in three starts over fences this season

Grands Crus to test Gold Cup terrain on Festival trials day

On the day when British horseracing measured its resilience against recession, publishing record attendances in 2011, racegoers were given every incentive to get the turnstiles clicking again at Cheltenham on Saturday. Entries made yesterday for the Festival trials card appear to guarantee at least one new favourite for the real thing, in March, with the three horses sharing the top of the JCB Triumph Hurdle market all lined up for a dress rehearsal. Even so, no race will be more instructive than the Argento Chase, perhaps the last opportunity to prevent the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup becoming another straight duel between Kauto Star and Long Run.

Diamond Harry clears the last to win the 2010 Hennessy at Newbury

Diamond can sparkle in company of legends

No matter what the heart says, one look at the odds is enough to make the head hopelessly confused.

Big Buck's seeks a 14th consecutive win at Ascot
The trainer is looking to saddle the first Hennessy winner from an Irish yard for 31 years

Meade casts Irish eyes on elusive Hennessy

Though most of Britain's prestige jumping prizes are regularly shipped to Ireland, there is one that has proved surprisingly elusive to the raiders. In 54 runnings, the Hennessy Gold Cup has been exported on only three occasions, firstly during the 1960s by dual winner Arkle and most recently back in 1980 by Bright Highway.

Henrietta Knight: The trainer saw Somersby enjoy a first success for nearly two years at Kempton

Somersby back with a bang for Knight

The search for something to challenge Long Run for top chasing honours this season, which began in earnest when Weird Al and Time For Rupert left their rivals behind at Wetherby on Saturday, continued yesterday at Kempton, with a long-overdue victory for the talented Somersby, and will do so again this afternoon at Exeter, where Arkle Trophy hero Captain Chris is among a clutch of last term's talented novices returning to action.

France: Raising a glass to Cognac

A journey to the home of French brandy production reveals a heady blend of history and innovation

Leading article: What about the workers?

The backward march of the labouring class began in Margaret Thatcher's time, if not before. In the 1960s, to be working class was the very height of fashion. After the Angry Young Men rebelled against bourgeois respectability, grammar-school boys whose parents were teachers, such as Michael Jagger, adopted the accents and poses of the workers. Then, most people were proud to describe themselves as working class, even if, increasingly, they did white-collar jobs.

The art of mutation

An exhibition by HRL Contemporary examines the nature of metamorphosis and hybridity in art. Matilda Battersby reports

Relentless Buck's can go one better than perfect 10

As Plan Bs go, the one applied to Big Buck's has had a lot to recommend it. Since a clumsy fall in a Hennessy Gold Cup prompted his redirection from fences to the smaller obstacles, he is unbeaten in 10 runs and the defending dual champion in the World Hurdle today. He is not only rated as the classiest staying hurdler in training, but the best hurdler full stop.

Kempes glory amid the gore

The grimly bizarre events yesterday at Newbury, where racing was abandoned on safety grounds after two horses were fatally electrocuted in the parade ring before the first race, shifted the sporting focus, with just over four weeks to go before the start of the Cheltenham Festival, to the high-class card at Leopardstown.

Lord Windlesham: Government minister who fell out with Thatcher over 'Death on the Rock'

Lord Windlesham found a place in politics, the media, business and academia, serving in various capacities under Prime Minister Edward Heath in the 1970s.

Minella makes the most of life in the slow lane

One of racing's assets is that it is such a broad church, offering so many different ways to worship. If you want to follow only the premier division, the exploits of the Kauto Stars and Hurricane Flys, you can. If you want to find winners by compiling an analysis of apprentice-ridden mounts at Wolverhampton on wet Wednesdays, you can. If you want to send 50 texts to make sure your hero A P McCoy gets an award, that's fine as well.

Pandorama hits top gear on road to the Gold Cup

Those of us who were depicting Pandorama as some sort of inexorable new force on the steeplechasing scene, before his first visit to Britain last month, were soon made to look rather silly.

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Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape