2011 British Sports Book Awards


The shortlists have been announced for the ninth British Sports Book Awards, organised by the National Sporting Club. The winners will be named at a ceremony at The Savoy Hotel on 9th May.
The number of categories rises to 10 this year with the introduction of ‘best racing book’ and ‘best sports book retailer’ in addition to best biography and autobiography, best football, cricket and rugby books, best illustrated title, best new writer and best publicity campaign.
After the awards are made, the winners in each category will be entered into a public vote to find the best overall sports book of the year -- a campaign that will be supported by booksellers throughout the country in the run up to Father's Day.

Today’s spotlight is on the Best Racing Book award, for which the candidates are:

Kauto Star & Denman, by Jonathan Powell (Weidenfeld & Nicolson).
The Story of Your Life, by James Lambie (Matador)
Bayardo, by Peter Corbett (Rinaldo Publishing)
Masters of Manton, by Paul Mathieu (Write First Time)
Bioenergetics and Racehorse Ratings, by Bob Wilkins (Overdee Press)
Timeform Chasers and Hurdlers 09-10 (Portway Press)
The Art of the Race, by Amanda Lockhart (Envisage Books)


Kauto Star & Denman

Kauto Star and Denman captured the imagination of the world beyond horse racing in a way not seen since the eras of Arkle, Red Rum and Desert Orchid.  Both trained by Paul Nicholls, they are two steeplechasers of the same age but different personalities. Kauto Star, a handsome bay, was born in France, where he was dubbed 'L'Extraterrestre' after winning the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park four times in a row  -- matching Desert Orchid's record -- and the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice. Some say he is the leading steeplechaser of all time. Denman, an indomitable Irish Chestnut, ruthlessly efficient and blessed with great stamina, is known as 'The Tank'. In 2008 he beat Kauto Star into second place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a result reversed the next year. Award-winning journalist Jonathan Powell tells the story of their life and times and the drama of their many victories - and occasional spectacular failures.

Powell’s story of this famous jump racing rivalry, which has been likened to Bjorn Borg’s epic struggle for tennis supremacy over John McEnroe and Seb Coe’s efforts to get the better of Steve Ovett on the athletics track, makes a strong contribution to the history of National Hunt racing
-- The Sports Bookshelf. Read more…

The Story of Your Life

The intriguing and turbulent history of a paper Charles Dickens praised for its 'range of information and profundity of knowledge', and which Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, simply endorsed with the remark: 'Of course I read The Sporting Life'. It was the Queen Mother's love of horseracing that made her such an avid reader of the Life and coverage of that sport forms the core of this book, but there is so much more to fascinate the reader including eyewitness accounts of the first fight for the heavyweight championship of the world and Captain Webb's heroic Channel swim of 1875. The paper's strident campaigns for racing reforms are also chronicled along with its coverage of major news stories, from Fred Archer's shocking suicide to its own untimely demise. Its travails in the law courts are documented from its first year, when it was forced to change its title, to its last, when it had to pay libel damages to the training team of Lynda and Jack Ramsden and their jockey, Kieren Fallon.

The Story of Your Life charts the progress of the paper from its first day in 1859 to its last. It’s not just a collection of stories, however. You can almost hear the typewriters clattering and see the smoke-filled Fleet Street office.
-- Steve Carroll, York Press. Read more…


Bayardo's achievements were considerable. He was champion at age two, three and four, as a juvenile he was unbeaten in seven starts. He won 10  races that today are categorised among the prestigious Pattern races, at distances of between five furlongs and two and a half miles and in all he won 22 of his 25 races. In addition he won at Ascot each year he was in training and was considered by his jockey Danny Maher, an American who was twice England’s champion jockey and won three Epsom Derbies, to be the best horse he ever rode.  Yet Bayardo has been almost forgotten and neglected for too long. Author Peter Corbett attempts to capture a flavour of the period covering Bayardo's life and career sets the scene for what is a fascinating time: the relatively brief but extravagant world of the Edwardians and the time up to the Great War. Bayardo's racing career is set in its historical context with racing and individual races of his time compared with racing today, so that Bayardo can be compared with other great horses since the beginning of the 20th century.

Bayardo depicts some very unsavoury characters, whose nefarious activities permanently changed racing in Britain, and details their colourful lives and achievements, together with their eventful and, on occasions, volatile relationships.
--- eclipsemagazine.co.uk. Read More…

The Masters of Manton

‘Old’ Alec Taylor, ‘Young’ Alec Taylor, Joe Lawson and George Todd were the founding trainers at Manton, the historic training yard in Wiltshire. Their colourful stories are collected for the first time in Paul Mathieu’s new book, The Masters of Manton, which offers a panoramic view of the horses, trainers, owners, jockeys, lads and hangers-on who populated the Marlborough downs over four generations. In it are profiled the great eccentrics of racing in Victorian times. Meet the wilful Caroline, Duchess of Montrose; her rich but browbeaten husband Stirling Crawfurd; the wastrel George Payne; and Sir Joseph ‘Scratch’ Hawley, who sacrificed an Oaks winner to protect his Derby gamble.  Plus the men who supported Manton in the hard times after the First World War: Lord Astor and the short-lived Joseph Watson, first Lord Manton. The 43 classic winners include the triple crown winners Gay Crusader and Gainsborough. The roll-call of jockeys in the book extends across the four greats: Fred Archer, Steve Donoghue, Gordon Richards and Lester Piggott.

Mathieu’s scholarly yet sensational study of Manton and the characters who surrounded it — stern, surly and secretive trainers, aristocratic wastrels, commission agents dressed in gangster chic — is a fascinating contribution to racing history.
-- Robin Oakley, The Spectator. Read more…

Bioenergetics and Racehorse Ratings

Bioenergetics is the subject of a field of biochemistry that concerns energy flow through living systems. Academic author Bob Wilkins, an engineer and former university lecturer, describes a scientific study of competitive running and develops a mathematical model which balances the energy supply from both anaerobic and aerobic sources with the energy required to accelerate the body, sustain running, and overcome air resistance.  When applied to horse racing it allows the relationships between distance, time, weight carried, going, and other factors, to be evaluated. The model is applied to racing on turf in Britain, but it is easily adapted to racing on other surfaces and tracks.  The result of the model is a Power Equation, which can be used to assess performance in a race in terms of a power rating.  This book is not about how to pick winners but about the link between equine exercise physiology and racehorse ratings. A basic under-standing of mathematics is required to follow the development of the model.

Don't be put off by what is quite heavy applied maths in places. Wilkins writes clearly and well, and it is possible to follow his arguments without understanding all of his methods. 
-- The Racing Forum. Read more…

Timeform Chasers & Hurdlers 2009/2010

First published in 1975-76 season, Chasers and Hurdlers 2009-10 marks the 35th annual in the series. Chasers and Hurdlers is the end result of careful, independent scrutiny of the racing records of every horse that ran over fences in England, plus a good number of the better Irish and French performers. Timeform's conclusions are arrived at impartially and are always presented so as to be of practical use to those who bet.  While primarily an aid to the punter, Chasers and Hurdlers also has some permanent value as a review of the achievements of the season's more notable horses. In addition to 10,000 entries, the book is enhanced by some 350 photographs, including action images of all the big races and posed portraits of the top performers.
The Art of the Race

The Art of the Race uses the beautiful black and white photography of Amanda Lockhart to tell the story of horse racing from start to finish, from the moment of a racehorse's conception to the highs and lows of action on the track. With support and co-operation from horse racing's key figures and organisations, including The Jockey Club, Lockhart -- who specialises in black and white reportage style book and exhibition projects -- was granted unique access to all aspects of the sport. With additional photographs by race-photographer Dan Abraham, the thrills and spills of many of the world's most famous races are also captured. The pictures are supported by informative captions, and an introduction by Sir Mark Prescott.

One of the attractions of racing is the colour, but the genius of black and white is that it concentrates the mind on the subject, the shapes and the gritty sense of what’s going on.
-- Marcus Armytage, The Daily Telegraph. Read more…

See the shortlists for Best Autobiography,  Best BiographyBest Football Book,  Best Cricket BookBest Rugby Book and Best New Writer.


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