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The audacious and inspired history of horse racing told through the bloodline of twenty-five exceptional Arabian steeds.
In 1704 a bankrupt English merchant sent home the colt he had bought from Bedouin tribesmen near the ruins of Palmyra. Thomas Darley hoped this horse might be the ticket to a new life back in Yorkshire. But he turned out to be far more than that, and although Mr. Darley's Arabian never ran a race, 95% of all thoroughbreds in the world today are descended from him. In this book, for the first time, award-winning racing writer Christopher McGrath traces this extraordinary bloodline through twenty-five generations to our greatest modern racehorse, Frankel.
The story of racing is about man's relationship with horses, and Mr. Darley's Arabian also celebrates the men and women who owned, trained and traded the stallions that extended the dynasty. The great Eclipse, for instance, was bred by the Duke who foiled Bonnie Prince Charlie's invasion (with militia gathered from Wakefield races) and went on to lead the Jockey Club. But he only became a success once bought and raced by a card-sharp and brothel-keeper - the racecourse has always brought high and low life together.
McGrath expertly guides us through three centuries of scandals, adventures and fortunes won and lost: our sporting life offers a fascinating view into our history. With a canvas that extends from the diamond mines of South Africa to the trenches of the Great War, and a cast ranging from Smithfield meat salesmen to the inspiration for Mr Toad, and from legendary jockeys to not one, but two disreputable Princes of Wales (and a very unamused Queen Victoria), Mr. Darley's Arabian shows us the many faces of the sport of kings.
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)|
About the Author
Christopher McGrath has won multiple awards as a racing correspondent, for seven years with the Independent (London). He has been voted Racing Journalist of the Year and commended as Specialist Correspondent at the UK Sports Journalism Awards. He has interviewed many leading figures on the international Turf, and also contributes a regular column on other sports. This is his first book. He lives in England.
Table of Contents
Part I Roots
1 'The most esteemed race amongst the Arrabs both by Syre and Dam' 11
2 'The cross strains now in being are without end' 27
3 A Groom with a View 38
A Day at the Races: Outwood Racecourse, Wakefield, 4 September 1745 49
4 'He won as many hearts in Newmarket as he lost in Scotland' 53
Part II Rakes
5 'Eclipse first, the rest nowhere' 63
6 Breeding Discontent 73
7 The Way Ahead 82
A Day at the Races: Epsom, 16 May 1793 91
8 The Regeneration Gap 95
Part III Ringers and Wrong 'Uns
9 Nobblers, Broken Heads and the 'artful dodger of the corps' 107
10 The West Awake 116
11 'I see a rum set in my day … But these beat all calculation.' 124
A Day at the Races: Doncaster, 17 September 1845 135
12 'Mr Palmer passes me five times in five minutes.' 139
Part IV Age of the Iron Horse
13 Full Steam Ahead 151
14 Old Sweats and New Money 164
A Day at the Races: Epsom, 20 May 1863 173
15 'She is my brood mare. The others are my hacks' 177
A Day at the Races: Alexandra Palace, 1 July 1868 191
16 'The lad rode as well as any could' 195
Part V The Fast Set
17 'My God, Berkeley, this is too hot!' 209
A Day at the Races: Ascot, 17 June 1897 225
18 'He is far ahead of the lot, even with all his faults' 229
19 Jewels in the Crown 245
Part VI War Horses
20 'All their young men are killed' 263
A Day at the Races: Epsom, 6 June 1923 281
21 'I have no method. Method is imitation. I invent.' 285
Part VII Raising the Stakes
22 'Chuck, what I tol' you?' 301
A Day at the Races: Churchill Downs, 2 May 1964 321
23 'Bang him on the nose early, Bobby. Make his eyes water.' 327
24 'They'd run through a wall for you.' 343
25 'I'd be surprised if there's ever been a better horse' 356
Illustration Credits 367
Bibliographical Notes 375