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CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE 2016: Pick up pick up a book readers won’t want to put down
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CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE 2016: Pick up pick up a book readers won’t want to put down
on 25 November 2016
Stuck for that gift for the equine enthusiast? Leo Powell recommends 15 books for Christmas



Two of the greatest ever scribes on the subject of thoroughbreds have combined to look at the racing and subsequent careers of 35 of the best racehorses in Europe and the USA. In one of the most beautiful productions of the year, they have written about some of the best horses that we have seen in the last 75 years or so, from Sea-Bird and Busted to Frankel in the case of Tony Morris, and from Ribot, Bold Ruler and Northern Dancer to Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta and American Pharoah by John P Sparkman. This is a book that will undoubtedly become a collector’s item and has to be a must buy for any serious follower of racing and breeding.

£55 including post and package email



Having been enlisted, along with Robert Hall and Guy Williams, to help write this history of Goffs, I have to state an interest. Celebrating the establishment of the company 150 years ago, ironically on the 100th anniversary of the founding of Tattersalls, this 240-page volume is choc-a-bloc with stories, history and a marvellous collection of photographs, many iconic and some being seen for the first time. A thread that runs throughout the story of Goffs is the many names from yesteryear that are still familiar today. Set out in a way that invites the reader to dip in and out, it is a book you cannot be without

€25 visit


Martin Mitchell has compiled a lavish book to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of Tattersalls and what a story it is. He has managed to condense the story into a dozen chapters, enlisting such as Tony Morris, Bill Oppenheim, Ed Prosser, Carl Evans, Alan Sweetman and Oli Bell, among others, to contribute. From the days of selling in London to the digital age, the 165 pages contains literally hundreds of photographs, principally of people who have made Tattersalls what it is. There is a special chapter too on Tattersalls Ireland. The book is worth it for the full page picture of Bobby Donworth alone!

£40 visit



If Peter Corbett’s only contribution to the annals of racing and breeding had been the splendid Bayardo, he would have done enough. Now his second book is the amazing story of the 1935 Triple Crown winner Bahram and this is a 620-page classic that lives up to expectation and goes further. It tells the story of the unbeaten colt, the hugely influential owner-breeder The Aga Khan III, and the multiple leading trainer Frank Butters. The Aga Khan established one of the greatest breeding dynasties of the 20th century and its influence is reassessed by Corbett, while historians and pedigree lovers will feast on some invaluable appendices.

£30 visit


Michael Church, the official Derby historian, has written extensively about the race that for many is considered the most important and influential in the world. Now he has produced a companion to his recent history of the Oaks, and revised and updated his previous works to include the most recent winner Harzand. Limited to 650 signed copies and covering the period 1780 to 2016, this is an exquisitely produced volume that will be a first port of call for anyone wishing to research, dip into or just browse at their leisure the history of the great Epsom centrepiece. It is also a reminder of why the race is so highly regarded.

£65 visit


Published in a limited edition of 800, Tony Barber has written the definitive history of a race that was run for the first time in 1776. The world’s oldest classic race, the race was conceived by Colonel Anthony St Leger who suggested a ‘dash’ of two miles, significantly reduced in distance from the usual heats run at the time. It is a story that celebrates the great winners, while also revealing the sometimes dark underbelly that produced stories of swindle and infamy that defy belief. This is a book that you will go to time and time again and find something new. An ideal read to have near at hand at all times.

£75 visit


Alan Conway is a self-confessed fan of Coolmore Stud and the successes enjoyed by Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle. He has produced a very readable story about the many triumphs of the organisation, both in the breeding sphere and on the racecourse.

From Vincent O’Brien through to his son-in-law John Magnier and the partnership with Robert Sangster, and right up to date with the powerhouse that is Ballydoyle under Aidan, Conway tells the story of the farm that has had on its books Sadler’s Wells, his sons Galileo and Montjeu, and also the mighty Danehill. A book for aficionados and anyone wanting to know the Coolmore story.

€24.99 visit


Published just before his retirement was announced, this book is a fitting tribute to a horse who was special in the life of Nicky Henderson and adored by many racing fans. While it is usually the Irish who raise the roof at Cheltenham after a victory, success for Sprinter Sacre in this year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase generated a response from true racing fans that was unbelievable. For a few years no star shone as brightly as Sprinter Sacre but then he was sidelined with atrial fibrillation. The story of his comeback, and a review of his racing career through the archives of the Racing Post, makes for a riveting read.

£20 visit


“This book was so awkward, I nearly had to walk away.” This was the comment of Charlie Brooks about the first book written by Mick Channon Jnr. At times shocking, the book chronicles a year in the life of the younger Channon, but featuring his father who doesn’t mince his words. This is a book that will make you laugh, cringe and more. Of his father he writes: “He’s a 66-year-old racehorse trainer, an arthritic workaholic and a grumpy old bastard. Driving, talking, shouting, bollocking, blaming and berating – these are all traits that he displays with complete conviction and prolific frequency. He’s a remarkable human being.”

£20 visit


Today’s world of the jockey’s room at the races is a far cry from that of the time when Sam Morshead was plying his trade. He had a successful life after the saddle and went on to become racecourse manager at Perth, a happy hunting ground for the Irish. With more than four decades of involvement in racing behind him, Morshead tells his story in an engaging, forthright manner and this is a book that will be enjoyed by people of all ages. Brought up in Ireland, he has many great stories to tell, while his long and fruitful association with the legendary Fred Rimell is recounted well and recalls an iconic period in National Hunt racing.

£20 visit


John Timpson bought his wife Alex a racehorse in 2002 and they had horses in training with Henry Daly, Paul Wwebber and Venetia Williams. They had great success comparatively and kept meticulous records of the 20 horses they raced. They won 42 times in all, with Safran De Cotte being the most successful. While they might not be as well-known as many other owners, it is people like the Timpsons who are the backbone of racing. Remembering the old adage that the best way to make a small fortune is to start with a larger one, John’s book is a realistic account of ownership, recounting all that is good about the pursuit.

£14.99 visit


Is there nothing that Clare Balding turns her hand to that she doesn’t do with excellence? Her first book was a Number 1 bestseller and award winner, while her second followed a similar path. Now she has turned her attention to writing a children’s novel and it is set to be another winner. This is written in the classic style of Gerald Durrell and Dick King-Smith, but the Balding imprint comes in the shape of a modern twist to the tale. When Jacqueline Wilson says that it is “a heart-warming story with a great girl-power message” you know that this is a book to have. The perfect Christmas gift for a horse-mad child.

£10.99 visit


Michael Tanner is already an acclaimed Turf historian with a long list of highly respected sporting biographies and works of reference to his credit. He previously turned his hand to fiction with the popular Victorian-set racing thriller The Tinman’s Farewell, and now his fiction and non-fiction fans will be united in welcoming a second racing thriller. As is expected of an historian of Tanner’s skill, the story is meticulously researched, yet the fictional characters are so natural and strong they blend seamlessly with the names we know so well. Whether a thriller fan or a history buff, Red Hand will appeal to both.

£14.95 visit


Jilly Cooper has sold more than 12 million books and many of these have reached Number 1 in the bestseller charts. Having previously tasted success with Jump! (the exclamation mark is very important) she is back at her best with Mount! The latest blockbuster reintroduces one of her own favourite characters Rupert Campbell-Black who first appeared in Riders some 30 years ago. Set in the world of breeding and with a wonderfully named stallion called Love Rat as a central theme, the book has everything you want in a Jilly Cooper novel. Ideal to while away the hours by the fire or the perfect holiday read.

£20 visit


This is the first novel by the award winning arts journalist and literary reviewer Eileen Battersby who many readers will know well through her contributions to The Irish Times. This is her first novel and is a most unusual coming-of-age novel concerning the character Helen Stockton Defoe who finds solace in science, art and horses. There can be no greater endorsement of the book and the story it tells than the words of the renowned Jennifer Johnston who said of it that “readers will find pleasure at every turn of the pages.” Neil Jordan described it as “bold and beautiful…the ending truly floored me.”

£13.50 visit


Irish Racing Yearbook 2016 is the definitive Irish racing annual, covering the entire breadth of the thoroughbred industry, including point-to-points and breeding, with in-depth analysis of the sales and stallion figures. Others featured include Adrian Keatley, Richard Fahey, Ronan Whelan and Barry O’Neill. There are many more interviews as well as stats, race records and fixtures, making it essential reading for the racing enthusiast. Irish Racing Yearbook 2016 also offers readers €625 worth of FREE admission tickets to racing tracks around Ireland as well as the chance of winning a share in the Irish Racing Year Book Racing Club, which includes horses from the yards of leading trainers Tony Martin, Michael O’Callaghan and Joseph Murphy.

€21.95/£19 visit

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