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.

French dressing: This season's flirtatious Gallic sensibility

Vive la coquette! At Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs' ultra-flirtatious silhouette and exotic details make for a French fashion moment, says Susannah Frankel

DVD: Clubbed (18)

This British gangster film, set in Coventry in the 1980s, tells the story of Danny (Mel Raido), a divorced father-of-two who finds his life is at a dead end.

Braeroy has easier chance at Didmarton

Point-to-point

Bookies on the run from Sicilian

For National Hunt trainers, this is the longest week of the year. Still another eight days to mess up before the Cheltenham Festival, and 101 different ways to do so. But the skirmishes and manoeuvres of the weekend, on and off the track, allowed no doubt that the phoney war is almost over, and heavy artillery finding its range.

Drubbing of Denman leaves Nicholls and Walsh deflated

Cheltenham hero left trailing by Madison du Berlais on return after heart scare

John Rentoul: Why it's not too soon to study Blair

It was 19 months ago that Tony Blair left office with a quizzical, "That is that; the end", and yet it feels like a different era. His government already seems to have moved from current affairs to history. Just as well, really, because Queen Mary, University of London, has launched a course on the Blair government for final-year history students. It is an unusual venture, bringing contemporary history right up to date, and building on the tradition established by Peter Hennessy, the department's leading professor, of historical inquiry based on primary sources and first-person testimony.

Thoroughly modern Ibsen: Little Eyolf gets a makeover

It was written in 19th-century Norway, but for the playwright Samuel Adamson, Little Eyolf speaks volumes about 1950s Britain. Here, he explains why he gave it a makeover

Pipe aiming three at Grand National

David Pipe could have up to three runners in this year's Grand National as he attempts to follow up last year's success with Comply Or Die. The current title holder will aim to shrug off his two disappointing runs of this season and become the first since Red Rum in 1974 to win consecutive renewals at Aintree. He could yet be joined by stablemates Puntal and Madison Du Berlais.

Dancer may sidestep limelight of Gold Cup

Jonjo O'Neill plans Festival raid for Albertas Run

Sublimity is perfect for Hennessy

Someone more seasoned in the fluctuations of his chosen vocation might have been tempted to take Robbie Hennessy aside here yesterday and offer some quiet counsel. Not, perhaps, that it would all be downhill from here; but certainly to savour the moment, because joys like these tend to become brief succour against a perennial state of siege.

Binocular puts his Champion Hurdle hopes in sharp focus

Big-race treble puts Henderson back in frame for trainers' title

Henderson targets another Ascot bonanza

Ascot stage their richest afternoon's racing of the jump season on Saturday and the meeting could well provide another lucrative haul of prize money for Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson, who had a treble at the Berkshire course last month.

Raglan Road seeks poetic justice

Perhaps Graham Wylie already knew the poem, when he spent £320,000 to buy On Raglan Road at the Doncaster Sales in May.

Fresh falls pile pressure on Calamity Sam

Hennessy Day at Newbury proved a crossroads in many different career paths. Most obviously, the success of Madison Du Berlais in the big race reiterated the impression that David Pipe will end up winning at least as many big races as his father, Martin, if not quite so many small ones. At the other end of the spectrum, a hock injury to Inglis Drever confirmed that we will not see much more of one of the best staying hurdlers of recent years. And the latest mishap endured by Sam Thomas left him in an agonising limbo between the two.

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there