The Gates to Brilliance, by Robert Dover

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  • The Gates to Brilliance



    Price as reviewed:

    £18.95 for paperback

    The Gates to Brilliance: 16 Reasons a Gay, Jewish, Middle-Class Kid Who Loved Horses Found Success – and How You Can, Too

    Author: Robert Dover
    Published: 2021
    Available as paperback or Kindle edition

    View now at amazon.co.uk

    About The Gates to Brilliance

    Billed as three-quarters memoir and a quarter self-improvement guide, US dressage rider Robert Dover’s autobiography takes readers through 16 “gates to brilliance”, key factors that have paved this Olympic bronze medallist’s career and personal life.


    I expected a standard autobiography with a dose of personal psychology on what made this hugely high-achieving rider the success he is. However, it delved so much deeper. Rather than a chronological account of Robert’s life, he picks key themes that have contributed to the rider and person he has become, and builds his life-story around that.

    This is a no holds barred narrative – Robert doesn’t shirk the issue of abuse he suffered in his childhood, his father’s alcoholism, or his fear of coming out as a homosexual and his often rocky quest for love. He’s not inviting sympathy – his happy childhood, wonderful relationship with his family and particularly his mother, plus his well-heeled middle-class background tell us this is not a struggle against the odds. However, he does carry the reader along with him in his reflections on his very human, often bumpy road to the top in his dressage career and search for fulfilling relationships. His passion to make a difference in the world on a human level, notably in the AIDS crisis that hit so many of his friends, means you can’t help but warm to him.

    Robert’s honesty means that the book is at times a little graphic perhaps for the younger reader, but that is in keeping with the overall style of holding nothing back.

    For those hoping for a peek into the horsey side of what makes an equestrian star, there’s all that, too – the many horses Robert cherishes, from his childhood horse Ebony Cash on the Bahamas, to those who took him to the Olympic Games. He tells us the stories from the stables, the arenas and famous showgrounds, the glitz and glamour of some of the most prestigious events on the globe. We meet all the people – both his mentors and those who let him down – involved in his path to the top of the dressage ladder; the reader feels you’re allowed into every part.

    Robert’s mentor, Swedish equestrian Col Bengt Ljungquist once told him: “The gates to brilliance are surrounded by a cloud of sweat and tears” – and this is the lesson that Robert seeks to portray, with a huge amount of fun, self-deprecation and humour to go with it.


    A no holds barred account of the personal life and career of leading US dressage rider Robert Dover. He writes with searing honesty, which is at times painful, at others glorious, but his mission to lay down fundamental life lessons both in achieving happiness and career goals is ultimately heartwarming and inspirational.

    Suitable for both horsey and non-horsey readers, but a real treat for dressage fans.

    View now at amazon.co.uk

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