Archive for November, 2016

Salisbury next

I can now reveal that the history of Salisbury racecourse is going to be the subject of my next book. Like some of my others, I’ll be starting with a clean slate as I know next to nothing about it.  I went racing there three times this year, which doubled my tally of lifetime visits.  I understand there was racing in the area in the 16th century, and the Corporation sponsored a race from very early on, which is still run as the City Bowl.  I shall be interested to see how far back any physical records go.

It’s not owned by Arc, the group that possess most of my old books, so there’ll be no need for me to have the inevitable chapter titled Northern Racing or Arena Racing. It so happens that I have a fair chunk of one-off work to do for one of the Arc courses on my plate, and I need to polish off in the next few weeks.

I’m quite a way into Bromley research and there are aspects of that which I hope to complete before putting it to one side and focusing on Salisbury. Whether I can continue or finish Bromley remains to be seen, but Salisbury takes precedence.  More trips to the British Library and to Wiltshire beckon.

The Racing Post ran my second review last weekend, which was the memoir of a former vet who specialised in horses. He had great success in the 1950s with the then new technique of hobdaying, an operation to help horses’ breathing that worked wonders with a number of Cheltenham Gold Cup winners in the following decade.  His exploits in the RAF, which he joined when only sixteen (lying about his age) were quite dramatic too.  It’s called Clearing the Airways and the author is Jeffrey Brain.

Read Full Post »

My second book review, about a very different and much shorter publication, needed quite a bit of time to be spent on it arising from queries on my first draft raised by the books editor. I hope it’ll appear in next Sunday’s Racing Post.

I’ve also been composing a review of The Blood Is Racing, mentioned here six weeks ago. The only place it might appear is here, but as the author has asked me to write it, I will discuss it with him first.

I’ve spent some time on Bromley finding maps of the district around the racecourse before and after its existence. Will these help me to establish its location?  I speak only of the principal course, which lasted only fifteen years, not long enough to catch the eye of map makers.

I was at Newbury last week, where two book signings were advertised. One for me, after the third race, attracted rather less attention than the second one, which was Jilly Cooper signing dozens of copies of her new hardback Mount!  Hopes I had of us sitting together and swapping one of hers for one of mine were dashed.  It’s good that it will have increased awareness of my books, for all of them were on display and I chatted to quite a few people about them.  Buyers, however, were elusive.

I looked in on Bath racecourse about ten days ago, and my goodness it has changed since I was last there in July 2015.  The plush new stands look top-notch inside and out, although to enjoy all of them – and I’m thinking of the new Roof Garden – racegoers do have to pay a premium.  It was great to meet the staff there, even more so as they gave me an impromptu guided tour and were complimentary about the book.  I was pleased to see they had used it to give names to various parts of the new facilities and are keen to play up the heritage aspect.



Read Full Post »