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Champion Jump Horse Racing Jockeys – From 1945 to present day, by Neil Clark


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  • Champion Jump Horse Racing Jockeys – From 1945 to present day

    Price as reviewed:

    £17.79 for hard cover

    Champion Jump Horse Racing Jockeys – From 1945 to present day

    Author: Neil Clark
    Published: 2021
    Available as hard cover or Kindle edition

    View now at amazon.co.uk

    About the book

    This is the first book to tell the story of all 22 post-war champion jockeys in one volume. It includes exclusive interviews with several of the surviving champions and fresh insights from friends, colleagues and family members of champions we have sadly lost. It contains some unique black-and-white and colour photographs of the champion jockeys in action, from the 1940s to the present day.

    Review

    We all know that jump jockeys are a breed apart and Neil Clark’s enjoyable read takes us back to a time when hospitals were for wimps and future champions were riding winners before their teenage years.

    The author tells the story of the 22 most recent champions, from the “fearless” Fred Rimell in the 1930s and 1940s, through the tremendous camaraderie and tussles between title-holders Josh Gifford and Terry Biddlecombe in the 1960s and on to the likes of the determined Richard Dunwoody and “the phenomenon” that is AP McCoy, right up to reigning champion Harry Skelton.

    Some of the great tales you may be familiar with – such as Devon Loch’s dramatic Grand National with 1953/54 champion Dick Francis in the saddle and two-time title-holder Tommy Stack’s exploits on Red Rum. But every chapter had me enthralled by a rich array of amusing anecdotes, such as Terry Biddlecombe’s dentures falling out mid-race – after nearly choking him on the way out – the breathtaking horsemanship required from four-time champion Fred Winter when his bit broke approaching the fourth of 30 fences in an Autueil steeplechase, and fascinating insights from the weighing room, such as the “Irish geniality” of Jonjo O’Neill, who was “tough as teak” on the track.

    But no jockey pushed the boundaries more than 20-time champion AP McCoy: “In November 2012, he was kicked in the face by a horse at Wetherby,” writes Clark. “His injuries necessitated the extraction of two teeth and some plastic surgery but so keen was he to ride at Ascot the following day, he refused general anaesthetic.”

    The stories serve as a stark reminder of how much the sport has changed in 75 years and I came away with a renewed respect for anyone who has been brave enough to make a living from thundering over obstacles at 40mph on half a tonne of horse.

    About the author

    Neil Clark is a journalist, broadcaster, author and award-winning blogger. He has contributed numerous articles to leading newspapers, magazines and websites and is a regular pundit on current affairs and sport on television and radio.

    View now at amazon.co.uk

    Verdict

    Some cracking anecdotes from the past 75 years of National Hunt racing and an entertaining dip into the extreme life of a jump jockey.

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