Your guide to racing books for Christmas
Your Racing Hub guide to books for Christmas
The Racing Hub choice
Starting From Scratch – Inspired to be a jump jockey
Starting From Scratch is a fascinating read which will give you an insight into a typical jump jockey and the life journey they take. Growing up, education, big breaks, professional careers and retirements. Henrietta’s book will give the reader a deeper understanding of what faces a budding jockey and increase the spectator’s knowledge of an elite sports athlete.
Knight has an astonishing level of understanding and knowledge about the Sport of Kings. As an ex-teacher and Olympic selector, it could have been about judgment of the quality of a rider. However, this is a factual read about the honest observations of the bravest and committed members of National Hunt racing. A project that took 14 months has gave Henrietta a detailed examination into her most favourite interests.
Over 80 jockeys have been included and all corners of the Britain and Ireland have been covered. The very best including Sir Anthony McCoy OBE and John Francome MBE as well as jockeys rising through the ranks such as Sean and James Bowen. Plus, ex-jockeys from the 1960’s to the 2018-2019 National Hunt season.
This book makes an excellent read, especially if you have read Henrietta’s previous project based on trainers – “The Jumping Game”. Each jockey has a suitable length entry, which keeps the book pacey and interesting, and covers childhood, education, family support, main career developments, the all-important big race successes, such as Gavin Sheehan’s World hurdle victory, and future ambitions in the saddle either or aspirations after retirement.
There are clear links about how times change in a range of areas from the approach to jockey training, availability of technology and the style of riding, on which some share their views, giving the reader an insight into a potential future to a jockey’s life. Luck is another aspect you appear to need. Good and bad seems to be spread evenly to all.
There is a range of education achievement in a jockey’s journey with a couple of business enthusiasts among the selection. However, the common traits are – the mental strength of a jockey, the will to win, the determination and the perseverance.
You are educated throughout the book which is another excellent advantage. This includes the importance of Flapping races, point to points, GCSE’s to leaving certificates and Gymkhanas’. A chronological layout of a jockey’s journey helps to understand the routes taken and the juxtapositions that exist.
It’s rare we find out the level of detail of how jockeys work and their upbringings so a gap is filled for any youngster wanting to learn how to be a jockey, or if you are an experienced spectator – you will get an insight from riding a pony called Jack to riding a Cheltenham Festival winner. (Which appears to be more satisfying than backing one!)
Fresh and informative, it’s a book about the people who are a key component in the sport.
So, if you are a budding jockey, will you be making a move to the countryside, writing to a trainer and become the next household name in the weighing room? If the answer is yes and on Christmas day you have begun to read Starting from Scratch – be careful with the chocolates!
Starting From Scratch – Inspired to be a jump jockey, Henrietta Knight, Racing Post Books £20.
More books for Christmas
Racing Post Annual 2020
Now in its ninth year, the Racing Post Annual is firmly established as an ideal Christmas gift for any horseracing fan. This review of 2019 has 224 colour pages packed with the best stories of the racing year and is beautifully illustrated with stunning images by award-winning photographer Edward Whitaker and others.
The Racing Post’s top writers look back on the best of the Flat and jumps seasons; the super heroes both equine and human; the moments to treasure and unusual stories of the year; plus a look forward at the top prospects for 2020. With a top line-up, this large-format, magazine-style publication is a must for any horseracing fan to enjoy at the end of the racing year.
Racing Post Annual 2020, £12.99
Hollywood at the Races – Film’s Love Affair with the Turf
Horse racing was so popular and influential between 1930 and 1960 that nearly 150 racing themed films were released, including A Day at the Races, Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry, and National Velvet.
This fast-paced, gossipy history explores the relationship between the Hollywood film industry, the horse racing industry, and the extraordinary participation of producers, directors, and actors in the Sport of Kings.
Author Alan Shuback details how all three of Southern California’s major racetracks were founded by Hollywood luminaries: Hal Roach was cofounder of Santa Anita Park, Bing Crosby founded Del Mar with help from Pat O’Brien, and Jack and Harry Warner founded Hollywood Park with help from dozens of people in the film community.
The races also provided a social and sporting outlet for the film community — studios encouraged film stars to spend a day at the races, especially when a new film was being released. The stars’ presence at the track generated a bevy of attention from eager photographers and movie columnists, as well as free publicity for their new films.
Moreover, Louis B Mayer, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Betty Grable, and Don Ameche were all major thoroughbred owners, while Mickey Rooney, Chico Marx, and John Huston were notorious for their unsuccessful forays to the betting windows.
Hollywood at the Races – Film’s Love Affair with the Turf, Alan Shuback, University Press of Kentucky (available through Amazon), £30.50
Tiger Roll: the Little Legend
Over the course of six memorable seasons Tiger Roll has entered not just the record books with his achievements on the racecourse but the hearts of the racing public too.
As great as his heroics at Cheltenham have been, it is his two wins in the Randox Health Grand National that set him apart. Success in the world’s most famous steeplechase is a singular achievement, but winning back-to-back renewals and emulating the legendary Red Rum has elevated Tiger Roll to a different level.
He has become a household name and his owners Gigginstown House Stud, trainer Gordon Elliott and principal jockeys Davy Russell and Keith Donoghue play leading roles in this story.
The back catalogue of the Racing Post with its award-winning writers and photographers has been mined to recount the story of one of the most popular racehorses of recent times.
Tiger Roll: the Little Legend, edited by Andrew Pennington, Racing Post Books, £20
The Grand National: A Celebration of the World’s Most Famous Horse Race
Every year the Grand National produces very different stories from jockeys and horses alike; uplifting scenes from a victor and heartbreak when a mere inch divides the loser from the winner at the end of nearly four-and-a-half miles and 30 challenging fences. The race has evolved over the years but there is one constant: luck, or the lack of it.
How fitting, then, that in 1839 the first winner was named Lottery. Back then, huge crowds rode to Aintree by horseback, in carriages, carts or on foot. Hotels were so full that some slept four guests to a bed. Today the Grand National is probably the world’s most famous horse race, with a global television audience of some 600 million in 140 countries.
Anne Holland’s richly informed book focuses on the race’s various record-breakers, rather than being a purely chronological history. In this greatest of all steeplechases, many records have stood the test of time. It is still jockey George Stevens from the 19th century who has ridden the most winners – five.
In 2019, Tiger Roll’s second consecutive victory was the first time that the feat had been achieved since Red Rum in 1973-74, and before that, Reynoldstown in 1935-36. Throughout its vivid history, many people have been opposed to the Grand National, claiming it to be dangerous. During the 21st century the famous fences have been modified, the drop at Becher’s Brook reduced, and the landing levelled. All this has led to a laudable reduction in injuries.
The Grand National continues to provide men, women and diverse thoroughbred horses with a true test of skill, bravery and perseverance. Anne Holland’s authoritative history celebrates one of the world’s greatest sporting spectacles.
The Grand National: A Celebration of the World’s Most Famous Horse Race, Anne Holland, Orion Publishing, £20
More racing books
Your guide to the jump guides – the annuals http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-2NI
Your guide to the jump guides – point-to-point prospects http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-2LR