Lester piggott

The best books about horse racing to buy now

‘There are just not enough horses’ heads looking out of the boxes,’ said William Jarvis as he ended a 140-year-old family dynasty training in Newmarket. We are losing too many like him. But racing has surmounted previous downturns as a remarkable new book reminds us. George Stubbs is credited as the first great equestrian artist to present galloping horses correctly, with all four feet off the ground rather than splayed out like rocking horses, but James Seymour – to my eye an equally talented artist – had at least experimented with the idea. After a decade of painstaking research, Richard Wills has produced in the sumptuously illustrated James Seymour (Pallas

A canter through Britain’s racecourses

Although it could hardly be less woke, the racing world is an excellent example of the diversity and inclusiveness we are all constantly urged to practise. Racecourses attract people of all classes, ages, creeds and economic status, some drawn by the spectacle, others by a love of horses or betting, and many just by the prospect of a good day out. Nicholas Clee, a committed racegoer, clearly enjoys the latter, and has hit on the idea of taking us round the racecourses of Britain and Ireland. There are 59 in Britain and 26 in Ireland, most of which he has visited several times. En route we pick up stories of

Why it pays for a jockey to follow the rules

Lester Piggott was famous for pinching other jockeys’ rides. He used his friendship with owner Ivan Allan to have Luca Cumani’s regular rider Darrel McHargue ‘jocked off’ Commanche Run in the 1984 St Leger. The disgusted McHargue said that he would spend the day playing tennis rather than watch the race, which duly supplied Piggott with his 28th Classic victory. Asked on Leger morning if rain would spoil Commanche Run’s chances, Lester replied coolly: ‘No, but it will ruin McHargue’s tennis.’ Piggott is famously a man of few words but he can make them tell. Former jockey Dean McKeown told me once of riding 33-1 shot Miss Merlin at Windsor