Mr. Darley's Arabian: High Life, Low Life, Sporting Life: A History of Racing in Twenty-Five Horses

Mr. Darley's Arabian: High Life, Low Life, Sporting Life: A History of Racing in Twenty-Five Horses

by Christopher McGrath


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Mr. Darley's Arabian: High Life, Low Life, Sporting Life: A History of Racing in Twenty-Five Horses by Christopher McGrath

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 Details

ISBN-13: 9781681773384
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 03/07/2017
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 1,210,507
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

Timeline xi

Introduction i

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

Acknowledgements 365

Illustration Credits 367

Glossary 369

Bibliographical Notes 375

Index 407

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