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.

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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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