There are few sports that can match horse racing’s longevity and power to tell a story in live action. Dreams can be shattered and made at the race track and throughout history there have been no shortage of tails that have been passed through generations, with the elders always explain the significance of the historic moments, and the fans always remembering the moments that they were there to see live and in-person.
However, for racing fans still learning about the sport there are a number of excellent books available to enhance your understanding of some of the sport’s best moments, from nutrition guides, to biographies of famous racers.
Seabiscuit, An American Legend
There are perhaps few more famous horses in the history of the sport than Seabiscuit. For newcomers to the sport, the book by Laura Hillenbrand offers an insight into the importance of the equine superstar in a period where every person across the United States during the Great Depression needed a success story to cling onto.
The feature length movie is based on the book, but the book is by far the superior out of the two. It profiles the horse’s unlikely rise to the top of the sport and Triple Crown glory, while also offering a deep delve into the people behind Seabiscuit, such as Red Pollard, Charles Howard, and Tom Smith, who were all characters in their own right. You can find his name alongside the best winners of the Derby on the TwinSpires website: https://www.twinspires.com/kentuckyderby/winners
One of the most enjoyable books for all horse racing fans available is Doped by Jamie Reid. The title won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year accolade in 2023, and offers an insight into the racing industry throughout the 1950s and 60s.
Horse racing plays a prominent role in the story, but the intertwining of crime, drugs, gambling, and the monarchy ensures that even non-racing fans will not be able to put the book down. The book tells the true story of a bookmaker, horse doper and gambler called Bill Roper. It is an excellent read and puts into context the fear that innocent horses and jockeys would have experienced around the time of the crimes.
Ruffian: Burning From The Start
Another horse racing book based on true experiences is Ruffian: Burning From the Start. This title, written by Jane Schwartz, takes us back in time to one of the greatest fillies that we have ever seen in the United States. Ruffian was unbeaten across her ten career starts, smashing record after record. The book highlights the sheer natural ability of the filly, before a tragic accident at Belmont Park in 1975.
It was a match for the ages, as she was set to clash with Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure, before she broke down and suffered life-ending injuries. The book is an excellent love letter to the famous three-year-old and highlights the shock that the horse racing world experienced when she tragically injured both legs in the match race at Belmont.
Frankie Dettori: Leap of Faith
Horse racing is all about larger than life characters, and there have been few larger than Frankie Dettori throughout history. The famous Italian will call time on his career at the end of the 2023 season, and there is no better way to get into the mindset of the multiple Grade 1-winning jockey than his autobiography.
The book explores all the highs and lows from his esteemed career, including his breakup from the Godolphin team, and the drug ban handed to him while he was at the peak of his powers. As well as the lows, the book also goes into outstanding depth surrounding his historic seven-timer at Ascot, and the highs he enjoyed with wondermare Enable.
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The Art Of Race Riding
“The Art of Race Riding” by Edward Hide is a book that provides an in-depth look at the techniques and strategies used by professional jockeys in horse racing. The book covers a wide range of topics related to race riding, including race preparation, riding position, balance, weight management, communication with the horse, and race tactics.
The author, Edward Hide, was a successful jockey in his own right, and he draws on his extensive experience and knowledge to provide practical advice and insights for both novice and experienced riders. The book includes detailed descriptions and illustrations of various riding techniques and exercises, as well as tips for developing mental focus and discipline.
Overall, “The Art of Race Riding” is a comprehensive guide to the skills and techniques needed to be a successful jockey in the highly competitive world of horse racing. Whether you are a professional jockey, an aspiring rider, or simply a fan of the sport, this book provides valuable insights and practical advice for improving your riding skills and understanding of the sport.