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Relive the Festival thrills with the stars of Cheltenham's jump racing spectacular

Horse Racing Books for the Cheltenham Festival


His great rivalry with Denman might have ended with the retirement of his stablemate in December but the Kauto Star story continues and might just have another glorious chapter still to be told if he can add a third Cheltenham Gold Cup to his record five King George VI Chase victories this week.

In the meantime, there is plenty to read about the story so far among The Sports Bookshelf’s selection of horse racing books for the jump racing enthusiast.

It is no surprise to see the paperback version of Kauto Star jockey Ruby Walsh's autobiography in the shops in time for the Cheltenham Festival. The Irishman is the master of the perfectly-timed finish, after all, and his tally of 32 winners at the Festival is unsurpassed.  Ruby: The Autobiography, written with the help of Irish journalist Malachy Clerkin, is published by Orion.

As well as winning all four of the ‘Grand Nationals‘ -- the Scottish, Irish and Welsh versions as well as the Aintree spectacular -- Walsh won the Gold Cup twice on Kauto Star, in 2007 and in 2009, when the gelding, now 12 years old, became the first horse to regain the blue riband of jump racing.

Last year Walsh triumphed against the odds, riding at Cheltenham only five months after suffering a broken leg and yet finishing as leading jockey for the sixth time, his five winners including the Champion Hurdle for the first time.

In an entertaining story, Walsh talks about the three key working relationships in his life - with Paul Nicholls, Willie Mullins and his father, the legendary Ted Walsh - as well as his friendship and rivalry with his fellow Irishman, Tony McCoy.

McCoy’s story -- A P McCoy: My Autobiography(Orion) -- meanwhile, is now available to download in ebook format. The 16-times champion jockey, acknowledged as the greatest National Hunt rider of all time, won the Gold Cup on Mr Mulligan in 1997, when he also landed the first of three victories in the Champion Hurdle, the latest coming two years ago with Binocular, his mount again when he takes on Walsh on Hurricane Fly this afternoon.

The Kauto Star-Denman rivalry is explored in detail, meanwhile, by Jonathan Powell in a highly acclaimed chronicle of the battles between the two, entitled simply Kauto Star & Denman (Wiedenfeld & Nicolson).

Denman, whose appearance in the 2012 Gold Cup turned out to be his last race, beat Kauto Star into second place in the 2008 race, a result reversed the next year. Their rivalry captured the imagination of millions even outside racing, a classic sporting contest that drew comparisons with Borg against McEnroe, Ali against Foreman and Coe against Ovett.

Powell collaborated with Paul Nicholls, who trained both horses, in his autobiography, Lucky Break (Orion), which was short listed for the British Sports Book Awards.

Cheltenham, of course, would not be Cheltenham without the Irish and Brian O’Connor’s collection of Ireland's Greatest Racehorses (Aurum Press) includes a host of Festival heroes. Including Arkle, Monksfield, Dawn Run, Moscow Flyer and Istabraq.

O’Connor, racing correspondent of the Irish Times, offers a fine series of witty and trenchant portraits sure to engage anyone who appreciates the unique flavour of the biggest week in the jump racing calendar.


Also recommended:

The Cheltenham Festival: A Centenary History, by Robin Oakley (Aurum Press)

The Complete Encyclopedia of Horse Racing, updated and edited by Graeme Kelly (Carlton Books)

Kinane: A Remarkable Racing Family, by Anne Holland (O’Brien Press)

Method in My Madness: 10 Years Out of the Saddle, by Richard Dunwoody (ebook: Thomas Brightman)

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