Page 1

Did singer Jolinny Mathis ever compete as an athlete in the Olympic Games?
Mary Jessell, Hornchurch, Essex

THE JUDGE: No. Mathis was a leading American college high jumper in the 1950s and was preparing to compete in the US Olympic trials for the 1956 Games in Melbourne when his career as a singer took off. He was also an exceptional hurdler and basketball player, and is a golfer with a single-figure handicap.

How and why did the mighty steeplechaser Arkle get his name?
Steve Nickles, Hammersmith

THE JUDGE: Arkle was named after a mountain on the Duchess of Sutherland's estate. He ran in 35 races, three of them on the flat and six over hurdles, and was beaten only four times in 26 steeplechases - once by a luckless slip, twice by weight handicaps and once through the injury that ended his career on Boxing Day 1966. When he completed his hat-trick of Cheltenham Gold Cups in 1966 - winning by a margin of 30 lengths - he was three-stone superior to any other steeplechaser.

How tall is Lester Piggot, and why is he known as The Longfella?
Stan Jackson, Manchester

THE JUDGE: Lester Piggot is known as The Longfella because, at just a fraction under 5 ft 8 in tall, most of the jockeys had to look up to him.

Was the American jockey Willie Shoemaker taller than Lester Piggot?
Frank Rogers, Rotherhithe

THE JUDGE: Willie the Shoe, a winner of a staggering 8,833 races from 1949 to 1990, was one of those who looked up to Lester. At his peak, he stood just 4 ft 11in.

Is it true that former world speedway champion Ronnie Moore started as a Wall of Death rider?
Paul Herd, Coventry

THE JUDGE: True. Moore, born in Hobart, Tasmania, on 8 March 1933, toured New Zealand at the age of 11 as his father's pillion passenger in a Wall of Death act. He was runner-up for the world speedway championship at 17 and he won the first of his two titles in 1954.

Which Tour de France cyclist was known as 'The Angel of the Mountains'?
Peter Jones, Blackburn

Charley Gaul collected this nickname during the 1955 Tour de France when on the mountain stage he left his rivals 15 minutes in his wake. The iron man from Luxembourg was King of the Mountains on nearly every tour in which he competed, and he was the overall winner in 1958.

Why was the Grand National once known as the National Lottery?
Dick Blackwood, Scunthorpe

THE JUDGE: Lottery won the Grand National in 1839. He was such an exceptional horse that race organizers used to have steeplechasers that were 'open to all horses except Lottery'.

Which West Indian Test cricketer was nicknamed 'Big Bird'?
Bob Gowans, Stevenage

THE JUDGE: This was former Barbados and Somerset fast bowler Joel Garner. He stood just over 6 ft 8 in tall, and, as he ran in to bowl to them, batsmen described the experience as like facing a swooping bird with a huge wing span. His most memorable bowling feat was his five wickets for four runs off 11 balls that sealed victory for the West Indies in the 1979 World Cup final against England at Lord's.

Why was the 1974 Charity Shield at Wembley known as 'The Battle of the Bare Chests'?
Michael Traynor, Scarborough

THE JUDGE: Billy Bremner (Leeds) and Kevin Keegan (Liverpool) were sent off for fighting each other, and as they reached the touchline each of them tore off their shirts and walked bare-chested to the dressing-rooms.