Robin Oakley brings alive the colourful world of those who ride and train jumping horses. With elegant production and gripping images The History of Jump Racing chronicles the social and economic changes which have brought the sport's ups and downs-like the development of sponsorships and syndicate ownership, the near loss of the Grand National, the growing domination of the Cheltenham Festival and the growth of all-weather racing to meet the bookies' demands for betting shop fodder.
Pace and colour is provided by stories of the horses who have been taken to the heart of racing crowds, like the Irish-trained hurdler Istabraq and Best Mate, the three-times winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup for England. Famous rivalries and memorable races are re-lived and key victories revisited in portraits of and interviews with the owners, jockeys and trainers who have dominated the sport. The emphasis will be largely on the past fifty years-from Arkle to Tony McCoy-but a significant introduction by Edward Gillespie encapsulates the past history of what was previously known as `National Hunt Racing' and sets the stories in context.
Robin Oakley: After being an assistant editor of the Sunday Express and the Daily Mail Robin was Political Editor of The Times (1986-1992) and of the BBC (1992-2000). He then became European Political Editor of the international broadcaster CNN from 2000-2009 and remains a CNN contributor. He has written the Turf column in The Spectator since 1995. Edward Gillespie (Foreword): Edward Gillespie was for 32 years managing director at Cheltenham Racecourse, responsible for the hugely popular Cheltenham Festival each spring, the Olympics of jump racing. He is a member of the Jockey Club and chair of the Pony Racing Authority as well as being on the board of a series of non-racing festivals in Cheltenham. He also works with Jonjo O'Neill, the former jockey who is main trainer for JP McManus, the biggest owner in jump racing.